Ivan redux

Not so fast, a reader says in response to my thoughts on the Best of Ivan Parker.

Don’t confuse a set of video presentations of the artist at Gaither tapings with the actual artist. Ivan actually does perform live very differently. He often has live piano, guitar, and saxophone, mixed in with tracks. He’s actually one of the few attempting to get back to live music. AND, he really is a great singer. If you haven’t seen him do a whole show on his own, you should. He sings dynamically and powerfully for usually 2 hour-long sets. He really does captivate audiences. He mixes and matches songs for that particular audience on the fly as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. He rarely misses a note. And I’ve heard he’s one of the few singers that is able to come into the studio and record large pieces of songs on the first take. He has a great voice and great control.

This is one of the problems with the Gaither stuff. He produces & controls & chooses songs and arrangements so that what you get is Bill rather than the artist. You do not get to see the “in-show”, real, version of the artist.

Point taken, especially about the Homecoming tour giving you its artists through the lens of Gaither’s vision and control.

Some artists and labels have complained for years that the Homecoming tour eroded demand for sg both in particular (why go see Ivan Parker by himself if you can see him with Gaither plus all these other folks?) and in general (why go see any average two or even three artists in concert when you can see a dozen Homecoming Friends?).

But one of the less well understood or acknowledged, and probably more pernicious, effects of Gaitherization in southern gospel is the homogenizing of artistic talent and audience expectations.

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  1. Mike Corder wrote:

    Going to a Gaither show is like having a sampler platter at a restaurant. You never get enough of the good stuff and get too much of the bad.

    You go to his show to find artists you like and soak up the mood and continuity he creates, but then you must see their stand-alone concert to really understand their capabilities and what they are all about. Even mediocre artists can be made to sound acceptable to the masses in the studio or with strax. For me, it is during the “unplugged”, acoustic, or acapella portions of the concert when you can really separate the wheat from the chaff.

    A Gaither show is a well produced production, certainly of a higher caliber than the typical SG crowd is used to. Bill Gaither is a master showman when it comes to planned spontaneity. I really don’t know how much he “wings it” and tailors the show to the crowd at hand in a typical concert. Lights, video, flying sound, trusses, house mix tech, monitor mix tech, several semi trailers, and lots of buses all contribute to the big-time aura.

    It is surprising to me that the only group so far to even attempt to leverage their Gaither exposure and do the large venue format and fewer small dates on their own formula is EHSS. The Cathedrals had come to that big gig format in their final years but without the full stage production.

    I thought the Hoppers might give it a try although they are basically the Kim Hopper show with a couple of backup singers and then Claude. (I love to watch Claude! In concert he looks like the hardest working man in gospel music; if only I could hear him! Or maybe it is better the way it is? We need to demand Claude and Rueben Bean do a duet together sometime!)

  2. JE Butler wrote:

    I love how people are critical of the Hoppers - except Kim. They were successful before Kim, and YES - even more with her. Dean is often spoken of as highly underrated, and I agree. He is, in fact - rather outstanding.

    No one is as consistent - night after night, than Connie. Always perfect pitch. Always!

    Claude is a good baritone, and like Connie - consistent night after night. He actually has a pleasant voice, not outstanding - but pleasant. He does what he does - well.

    Michael is going to add much to this group when he joins the front line singing. Just like Kim added much - Michael will add much.

    An evening with the Hoppers is a great evening of entertainment and ministry. This - is from a traditional quartet lover…


  3. nashville guy wrote:

    that reader went to a different Ivan Parker concert than we went to then. When we saw him it was All tracks and most of them sounded like they had the entire gaither choir singing in the background. and on top of that it was LOUD - way too loud. People were actually holding their hands over their ears. but the tracks roared on. Ivan was nice and talked a hole lot. then when the ‘commercial’ came about the CD’s and stuff he had for sale - He went on and on and on and on - & actually told the people that they all needed to buy 3 of something - and held up 3 fingers - “all of you have to buy 3 of something.”
    i was a little shiocked by that.

  4. FW wrote:

    Ivan was great in Gold City, and yes, he still has an amazing voice…but I can’t listen to him sing Midnight Cry one more time. Time to move on! It was a LONG time ago! Can’t he stop trading on the “ex-Gold-City-member” status yet?

    p.s. Hairpiece? Uh-huh. Definitely a rug…or something like it. It CANNOT be 100% natural.

  5. FW wrote:

    Oh, and one more thing…anyone who does NOT think the Hoppers are actually “The Kim Hopper Show with Back-Up Singers”…um, where have you been for the last decade?

  6. Southern Gospel Fan wrote:

    FW I totally agree.KIM is the #1 Hooper, rest is backup.
    As for Ivan he was joking with the crowd when the 3 fingers went up and he said you need to buy 3 things.
    last summer he had his Son and a friend Casey traveling with him and that was where the Saxophone and Guitar came in.
    So ironic that I go to at last 3 solos concets and sometimes more a year depending how close he is. Last year 5 times he was within 20min to 1 hr. driving time ftom me. Not so this year just 3.
    Don’t understand as many as don’t like him wht these events are always full and the same churches and promoters have him back ,year after year.
    Reading on here one would think his concerts would not be well attended.
    Just read on further down this article.
    Guess I want have to get there so early this Sunday night.LOL Just joking about that.

  7. Leebob wrote:

    #1 Mike - right on about the Gaither show. How he still sells as many tickets as he does is beyond me because it is the same show every year. I got bored of the whole thing and haven’t been in about 3 or 4 years. I can only handle so many reprises of “Shoutin’ Time”.

    Anyone who has ever watched a sound man at a Hopper’s event knows that Claude’s mic is basically a non-factor. Connie is a class act all the way and Dean is under-rated mainly due to the class of the show, Kim. Yes the Hopper’s existed and had limited success before Kim was with them but anybody who thinks they were as successful before Kim is smoking their socks or something else out there in the Carolina’s.

    Ivan has always appeared to me as a class act. I have heard that his events are usually pretty close to capacity but here in Dallas who would know because even the AGM was horribly attended and poor Ivan had to start over because the sound was not right at all.

  8. quartet-man wrote:

    To a large degree, Gaither runs the show. He picks the songs etc., but there have been several times that the artists arrangements and tracks have been used. (At least for the parts the artists do themselves.) He does tell them which of their songs to do I think, though. I would say that he has a big say on the choir arrangements.

    I discovered the Talleys, Hoppers, Martins and others on the Homecomings. With the Hoppers, Kim is a huge part of the level of their success. Dean is very underrated (but taking the leads and solos in a show to the degree that Kim does wouldn’t work as well), Connie is a great alto (but no so much a soloist. She can do some decent leads though.) Claude might be an okay baritone, but as a bass in the group context, he hardly contributes vocally at all. So, without a strong and great singer like Kim, the Hoppers wouldn’t have gotten nearly to the level of success they have. Mostly without her you have one good male singer who does really well at harmony, one alto who does great at it, but no so much as a lead vocalist) and Claude. :)

    The sampler comment about Gaither shows is how I feel. Too much choir stuff and not enough of the groups I like. I too got burnt out on going to Homecoming concerts in my area because it was mostly the same performers and same songs.

  9. IvanParkerFan wrote:

    Okay.Avery,my apology..Not really,anyway this article is..uuhhh…okay i guess.Poor Ivan.even though that was alomost 2 years ago.Speaking of The Hoppers,have any of you watched “The Best of The Hoppers” DVD.Don’t worry who ever said the thing about Shoutin’ Time.It’s okayI have it.oh and FYI,FW Ivan’s hair IS real,no dye,special paroducts,wig,etc.,about it 100% real,pretty,and natural.

  10. IvanParkerFan wrote:

    i mean 3 years ago,almost 3 years ago.its 2010 and 3/4 yippy!

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