Paisleyand Urban are two country artists who sing, play lead guitar tremendously and write much of their material.
Why can’t there be a gospel group with a tenor playing bass guitar, a lead singer playing lead guitar, a baritone singer playing piano and a drummer singing bass?
That would eliminate the cost issue of having a band. If the drummer can’t sing bass, hire one and the group is still paying only five people for a quartet and a full band.
A really good point. One possible answer might be that there simply aren’t that many gospel performers who can play an instrument any better than they can sing. Another could be the simple fact that even if they can play well enough, why bother? Audiences may appreciate and enjoy live instruments, but that’s certainly not a requirement or an expectation for success anymore. No one’s going to be able to command a higher flat by putting a bass guitar in the tenor’s hands. So why not just cue up the track and make some joke about our band leader, Mr. Sony.
And too, the ubiquity of band tracks has created a situation in which some groups that do include a member with a decent ability as a player can actually benefit more by using that talent less. Witness how much audiences love it when Greater Vision turns the tracks off and Gerald Wolfe provides the piano accompaniment for “
But I wonder if there may not be something else going on, too. Namely, that in some unspoken but widely understood way, singers who also play an instrument erode the special status that vocalists enjoy in the cultural and professional hierarchies of southern gospel.
Going from the bottom up on the food chain of professional southern gospel, you get something like this: songwriter, producer, roadie/bus driver, player, singer, superstar singer, Bill Gaither, any performer’s child on stage singing “Victory in Jesus.”
So in a culture like gospel music, which prefers clearly defined personalities and easily categorized roles for its public figures, a singer who takes up an instrument runs two related risks: not only does he risk diluting his brand as a gospuhl sanger; he also effectively takes himself down a notch in the sg pecking order. A double threat indeed.Email this Post