GMA Week: Ryman vs Hilton

So it’s the Gospel Music Association’s annual GMA week in Nashville - the chance for all things Christian music to be spit-shined, showcased, celebrated, branded, and shamelessly promoted (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The big event is, of course, Wednesday night’s Dove Awards (the Christian Grammies). But leading up to that is a series of showcases and other programming of varying degrees of visibility and synergy.

Southern gospel garners just about as much attention during this week as it does any other time of the year (which is to say, not much), so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Tuesday night Southern Gospel Music Guild concert at the Hyatt Hilton is going up against the “Opry at the Ryman Songs of Faith Signature Show.” Jeff and Sheri Easter are scheduled to play BOTH gigs. I guess since the former starts at 7 p.m. and the latter at 8 p.m. and the venues are only a few blocks apart, it’s possible this isn’t a misprint. But you can guess which event they’ll skip if there’s a conflict (just as I’m sure you can guess which of the two XM enLighten 34, sg’s sat-rad station, has decided to broadcast live). Don’t worry though. Whether they play the Hyatt or not, the Easters will be “honored” at the Harmony Honors Celebration Concert, along with just about every other sg big name that could be larded onto the promotional material for the event.

This is some quintessential sg right here: using an up-ticket artist’s name to promote a downticket event at a hotel ballroom whose few hundred seats rarely ever fill up, while that same headlining group plays one of the most storied venues in American music a few blocks away.

I’ll be in Nashville later tomorrow and Wednesday and I’m hoping to do some blogging while I’m there. Stay tuned.

Update: reader Eric says reservations are filling up for the Hilton event so maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised this year. But unless this is a very different kind of venue than the one I remember, my underlying point stands: judging by GMA week programming, sg as an industry seems to fulfill the image of itself in the wider world of music entertainment with small bore events aimed mainly at insiders.

Later update: a friend who knows just emailed to say there are 500 seats available for the Tuesday night thing and already most/all are reserved. Impressive.

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  1. Eric Melton wrote:

    Actually Doug it is at the Hilton not the Hyatt. Futhermore from what I understand they were taking seats by reservation and there are very few left at this point.

  2. Betty Schild wrote:

    I would love to have a copy of “Nothing but the blood” by Mercys Well that I heard this morning. Great Song!!!

  3. Chuck Peters wrote:

    I don’t think enlighten 34 (XM’s SG channel) is broadcasting anything from GMA week.. XM 11 is doing the Ryman show.. and XM 32 is doing the GMA Dove Awards.

  4. Mike wrote:

    How do you reserve seats for this event? Can anybody do so?

  5. Eric Melton wrote:

    Earl Galloway is in charge of the reservations. After speaking with him yesterday, he was having a hard time finding any available spaces for anyone further at this point.

  6. JohnKennedy wrote:

    #2 Betty, Thanks for the interest. You can go to our website, or contact our office at or 336-314-6787 to get a copy of our Hymns CD. If you enjoy the Hymns project, I think you’ll like some of the up and coming things that we’re working on, as well.
    btw, I’m a longtime reader/lurker on this and many other SG blogs/forums, and want to say a big THANKS to DH, DM, DBM, BB and all others who keep us thinking about SG, how it can be made more effective, and what we (artists and fans) can do to both preserve SG heritage and move forward with new and creative ways of sharing the Gospel message through this wonderful music.

  7. Chuck Stevens wrote:

    Some of the groups were here in Tulsa last weekend for Frank Arnold’s Singfest. Anybody make this event? The Hoppers stole the show Saturday night. Gold City was sounding realy good, the closed it out. The Dove Brothers came out and sang all slow songs, I was realy looking forward to hearing them tear the place up. Brian Free’s group was bandless again. I thought they still had a drummer and piano player? I miss the days of groups with at least a three piece band, nothing stays the same. The Mabee center is a great place to see a gospel show. Issacs made an appearance as well over the three days as well as the Perry’s, Booth Brothers, Talley Trio, Karen Peck and Legacy Five, I miss Roger on stage with them, it was Big Band Gospel.

  8. Ima Fan wrote:

    Well, if all the seats were spoken for, I wonder where many of those people were, especially in the GMA registrant section where I was sitting. There were plenty of empty seats toward the center and back sections.

  9. NoNamePerson wrote:

    actually ima fan: when i had to leave (for a previous commitment) almost ALL the seats were full….there may have been 10 seats left open in that GMA section

  10. 1 old fan wrote:

    I was at the SGMG program, too, but sat near the front, so I don’t know how many empty seats there were. But I will say it looked like a good crowd.

    The sound, however, was HORRIBLE!!! Three of the groups that used live instruments should have had their tracks, too. And the mix was deplorable! As dumb as I am, I think I could have mixed it better. Several of the solos couldn’t be heard, and it appeared the engineer turned mics off and on during each song. EMBARRASSING for s/g, at an event like this. I hope there were no GMA registrants who had never tasted s/g before. It probably would have left a bad taste in their mouths.

    There were some highlights, too. Lillie Knaulls was great; KP&NR sounded very good, as did the Isaacs & BF&A. Gordon Mote was a highlight, too.

    Those 2 old fat men with Three Bridges need to quit trying to dance. It was ugly.

  11. wackythinker wrote:

    I have a co-worker who arrived about 20 minutes late for the presentation last night, and he said it appeared to be about 90% full. Probably not a bad showing.

    Also, it was told the Ryman show was a Tuesday night Grand Ole Opry show. Don’t know if that’s correct, but that’s what was told from the stage, as an explanation for Jeff Easter (one of the hosts) not being there for the middle part of the show.

    Does anyone know anything about the Dove Brothers and Legacy 5 being at the Ryman tomorrow (4/24/08)?

  12. Jim2 wrote:

    From the Legacy 5 website, it looks like that is a Lifeway event at the Ryman

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