2 cool

Writing about ChoZen, I was reminded of this note from a friend mine that arrived several weeks ago:

What is with the overabundance of groups that, for one reason or another (I guess they think it’s cool), use either a number in the group’s name or a “clever” way of spelling a specific word.

Examples: (I’m just flipping randomly through July’s SN if you have one laying around)

pg 110 - Forgiven 4 (does that make sense even if it was spelled correctly?)

pg 66 - ChoZen

pg 45 - Soul’d Out (mmm clever, might I add that the guy on the far right looks thrilled to be there)

Not sure if they are in this issue but I believe there is also a 4given.

Anyway, a friend of mine and I got bored at NQC one year and we walked around and counted every group that did one of these things, we counted 23.

So what are your thoughts? Why would someone do this? Is it to be “hip with the kidz, so we don’t come off whack”? If it is I don’t think a kid is going to be stuck at some SG gang-bang outdoor festival and see a misspelled word or a number in a group’s name and say to their parent(s), “Oooooh ooooh ooooh! This group is using the English language improperly, let’s listen to them!”

I have no answers; only two observations. In general, this sort of pseudo-cleverness tends to bespeak an attempt at imaginative distinction from insufficiently imaginative people (think of all the 4 Sale signs you’ve ever seen in your life). Additionally in sg, it also often means that good names are hard to come by and that many people in a pinch tweak the spelling of a common name or some variation thereupon rather than do the much harder work of coming up with an original name. Which is, in the vernacular, 2 bad.

Update: This commenter brings up a good point about the black gospel angle, and that makes me think that maybe this trend in names may be owing at least somewhat to R&B and hip-hop culture, in which case there’s probably more going on here than my initial school-marm reaction allowed. Indeed, there’s doubtless some structuralist theory of cultural semiotics out there that might offer some insight into what’s going on here. So all you structuralist semioticians, here’s your cue to speak up.

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  1. K.Allen wrote:

    I’ve been waiting for someone to bring this topic up for conversation. Being that I’m from Detroit, and very aware of the urban gospel market, these names are normal and almost expected…

    A few examples: Trin-i-tee 5:7, 2 Companies 1 Goal, 4MANna Quest… they go on…

    Could it be that this is just an infiltration of two genre’s? The tactfulness can be argued as objective, however, in the 60’s, the same situation was taking place… only with the use of actual song material.

  2. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    I blame Prince.

  3. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    Based on what DBM has suggested, might we get a symbol for a name. One suggestion would be the trinity loop design that was on the New King James Version Bible when it first came out!

    Seriously, while I doubt that anyone would go that far, it is interested to see which direction groups are going to veer in the future when it comes to naming their groups.

  4. K.Allen wrote:

    (M. McIlwain) That would make it easier for graphic designers…

  5. wackythinker wrote:

    Even in other businesses, there are WAY too many people re-spelling common words to make a cutesy logo. “Kwik Sak”, “Majic Mart”, “Toys R Us”, “Kar Plus”, “Muzak”, “Klips & Kurls”, “Kut Above Styling”, “Kustom Kars”, et al.

    Enuff’s enuff!

  6. Kyle wrote:

    Since it seems to figure heavily into their artwork, I wonder if Ernie Haase will trademark “&,” forcing other groups to actually spell out “and”….Brian Free AND Assurance, Ricky Atkison AND Compassion, Bill AND Gloria Gaither…

  7. Leebob wrote:

    #6 leads me to another question I have had. Why do individuals insist on including their name at the front of the group? Is it simply for name recognition or their own sense of self-importance being elevated. This does tend to lend itself to SG idol “worship” so elequently eluded to in other posts.

    I mean, surely by now, Brian Free could be known as Assurance, couldn’t they? Oh yeah, he went solo and reformed the group…that would make them Re-Assurance. Certainly Signature Sound is well enough known that the “Ernie Haas &” could be dropped? I noticed that in the beginning Phil Cross used Phil Cross & Poet Voices but then later years, simply went to Poet Voices.

  8. wackythinker wrote:

    Lee, I won’t name names, but I think sometimes it is ego, but others for identification. Signature Sound had already established themselves before Ernie decided to add his name to the front of it. I heard or read somewhere BG advised him to do it. And you’re right about BF&A — they were a trio as “Assurance” before Brian went solo for a while, the reinvented the group as a quartet. Again, I think it was someone at a label that recommended that. But this has been going on for decades. Hovie Lister & the Statemen Quartet. J D Sumner & The Stamps. Bill Gaither Trio (formerly just known as the Gaither Trio– did someone think another Gaither group might come along and confuse the audience?). Willie Wynn & the Tennesseans. Just to name a few.

    There may or may not have been another “Statesmen” to get Hovie’s group confused with, but there had been multiple groups with the “Stamps” name, and since J D had just left The Blackwood Brothers, it probably was a good promotional idea (and supposedly, wasn’t J D the king of sgm promtions?). Same with WW&TT — identification. Had they only called themselves, most concert promoters would have overlooked them. Rex Nelon used the name “The Rex Nelon Singers with Eva Mae LeFevre” for a short time, too, so people would understand the transition.

    A lot of precedence.

  9. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    When I wrote that I blame Prince, I was actually thinking of how he abbreviated “you” to “u” in a song title, rather than the symbol used for his name.

    Ever since then (”then” being 1987), people have equated the practice with being “clever.”

    Now, no one can spell.

  10. lurker wrote:

    Of the three group names mentioned in the post, only one name makes clear sense to me as they are listed and that is the name Forgiven 4. I assume that they are 4 guys who have been forgiven. No clue what the names ChoZen or Soul’d Out mean on a stand alone basis other than to just have a more youth oriented appearance.

  11. natesings wrote:

    A reason I understood that Signature Sound Quartet changed to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound was to prevent confusion with an existing group called Signature Quartet.

    #8- Brian Free actually added a bass singer making Assurance a quartet a few years before going solo.

  12. chump wrote:

    #5 wackythinker: you may have a beef with these “cutesy logos”, but they indeed caught your attention enough to post them on this blog.

    #7 leebob: from it’s very beginning, southern gospel music has included an individual’s name in group names. examples are the Vaughn Quartets, Frank Stamps Quartet, VO Stamps Quartet and so on. Other names that pop into my mind that have used an individual singer’s name in the group name are Rosie Rosell, Jake Hess, Danny Funderburk, London Parris, Cecil Blackwood, Coy Cook, and i’m sure there are plenty more that i am not able to recall. i see nothing wrong with it. it is just a way to “brand” the group and make them recognizeable.

    #10 lurker: i agree with your assessment. i think that forgiven 4 can be a factual name whether spelled out or using the digit in the name. www.forgiven4.com i don’t get the name choZen either. nothing explained on their website, only a dead link to a cancelled myspace page. www.chozengospel.com. as far as the soul’d out group’s name. spoken i can understand it, but to read it is just idiotic. www.souldoutquartet.com. of these three names, i would imaging that the first one would have the least amount of problems with people spelling it the wrong way on billboards and concert promotional material.

  13. wackythinker wrote:

    Chump #12, I got sidetracked, and didn’t finish my thought. Thanks for bringing it back to my mind.

    I’ll admit I’m not the world’s best speller, but I’m not the worst, either. I try to spell correctly, and use proper grammar most of the time. I know a lot of people who have poor spelling skills/habits (whatever), and know it. And others who have poor spelling skills/habits and DON’T know it, and/or don’t care.

    It seems to me this INTENTIONAL misspelling hurts people who don’t know better, or (worse yet) kids who are trying to learn proper spelling (or their teachers’ efforts to teach proper spelling).

    I think it also makes it difficult to communicate in the internet age. For example, are we looking for an artist name “Risen”, “Rizen”, or “Ryzen”? Is Legacy 5’s website “legacyfive.com”, “legacy5.com”, legacyV.com”, “L5.com”, “LV.com”, or Lfive.com”?

    If we don’t know the correct spelling of their name, how do we google them? Not that the internet is the end-all and be-all, but it should be taken into consideration in today’s environment.

    Just MHO.

  14. Chump wrote:

    #13 wackythinker wrote:
    “It seems to me this INTENTIONAL misspelling hurts people who don’t know better, or (worse yet) kids who are trying to learn proper spelling (or their teachers’ efforts to teach proper spelling). ” i can somewhat understand your point, but honestly…how many teachers do you know that use the names of Southern Gospel groups in their spelling tests?

    wacky thinker wrote: “If we don’t know the correct spelling of their name, how do we google them?” i would dare say that if you are going to use a search engine (google, yahoo, etc.) to obtain information about a gospel group, you are going to already have a good idea how to spell their name. even if you may not have the correct spelling, a savvy internet user can usually find what they are looking for.

    i am not necessarily disagreeing with your stance on misspelling as pertaining to group names, but i really don’t see where it is too big of a deal. which by the way, in addition to r&b, rap, and southern gospel music, there are many bluegrass groups who use “intentional misspellings” in their names’ as well.

  15. Aaron Swain wrote:

    Here’s an original name: Four Guys.

    Seriously, there’s a new group on www.bsaworld.com that bears that name. No bio yet. Wonder who it is?

  16. Chump wrote:

    #15 Aaron…..if i’m not mistaken, the Four Guys have been around for a very long time singing back-up on the Grand Ole Opry. i also believe that the current husband of Becky Simmons sings with them. try googling the name, it seems rather easy to spell.

  17. nonSGfan wrote:


    1. Da Happa’s

    2. Gaytha vocul band

    3.The Marteens

    4. Tal-e-tree-o

    5.I-vn Prker


    7.Awstins brige

    8.Ern-E Hawse and Sigdizzle sound

    9. BFAA (think)

    10.and lastly, The Easta’s

  18. sockpuppet wrote:

    I seem to remember a Hoppers cassette back in the day - they were all wearing sunglasses - from the Hip-Hoppers. I can’t remember if they tried to rap, I’m sure I never listened to it, just saw it on a store shelf.

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