History of Oversinging
Kyle Boreing has 20 years worth of Gold City performing “Midnight Cry,” from 1987, 1997, and 2008 (which is Ivan Parker, Jonathan Wilburn, and the new guy with the unpronounceable name on lead, respectively). Check it out. My favorite:
Kyle offers this and the two other videos as “three generations” of a great song. And I guess it is that. But taken as a longitudinal study in sg male lead vocal stylings, this collection could also just as well pass as a brief history of oversinging in southern gospel. If you skip to around 2:00-05 on each recording, or about the place where the first chorus ends, and listen to each guy render the second “big” verse, you’ll hear what I mean. In 1987, Parker delivers his lines with simple, dignified authority - using tone colors, breath support on some improvisational passages, and mostly the authority of his image as The Leading Man to sell the verse without rewriting the melody much at all. Ten years later, Wilburn relies on more histrionics and vocal filigrees to sell the song. By the time Taliaferro inherits the song, he’s pretty much got to wail his through it to get the job done. In isolation I probably never would have noticed this progression, but taken alongside its predecessor, each of the two later videos feels like an exercise in trying too hard, as though the vocalist oversings in disproportion to the southern gospel’s fading fortunes in the mass market.
They’re fine vocalists, all (at least they’re all in fine form here). And which version you find superior is probably mostly a matter of a taste. But when viewed alongside the degradation in venues over time (from theater, to church, to multipurpose room); the (d)evolution of instrumentation (from three-piece band, to live band and tracks, to band track with a little live piano, assuming Josh Simpson is somewhere off to the right of the video frame); and the erosion of recording quality (from professional live video shoot to bootleg camcorder), the videos feel like a time delay record of the rise, peak, and decline of southern gospel quartet music.
Less fancy talk: any fan of southern gospel has to wish a group with as much talent as GC in 2008 didn’t have to (over)sing with canned tracks in a college multipurpose room.Email this Post