The Musical Age of Accountability

The Mike and Kelly Bowling discussion went from “getting warmer” to overheated when this commenter referred to the Bowlings’ daughter, who often makes appearances on stage with the family to sing with them, as “that screamin’ kid.”

And with that we were, as Sissy from Sordid Lives would say, “Off and runnin.’”

Thereupon, the stars shone brightly for a while, my friends, as Katy Peach and Libbi Stuffle and Joseph Habedank all showed up to say what most commenters seem to think or believe: that it’s mean to “attack” a child, and that this particular child is (or is going to be) a fine singer, and in short, why don’t you pick on someone your own size.

These kinds of discussions produce a lot of heat but little light, and once things cooled down a little, it was encouraging to see the commenter who kicked all this off revisit his original position and conclude the following:

It’s been a few years since I saw Hope. Mommy, Daddy & Grandma were pushing her when she was about 4 or 5, and AT THAT TIME it was not good at all.

[snip]

I felt sorry for her.

[snip]

If you’re going to put a child up to sing, and she’s not carrying a tune well yet, please at least teach her to not yell.

[snip]

It was NOT Hope’s fault, those years back. It was her parents’ fault. I should have pointed the blame where it belonged

I realize, of course, a child has to be given some stage exposure, if the child is to ever have a chance at singing on a larger scale. But PLEASE don’t push it! Teach them some musicality and allow their voices to develop before you put them in that position.

It’s too bad that this whole discussion got caught up in focusing on the Bowlings, because as this comment suggests, the issue is much bigger than any particular instance of children being put on stage with a microphone too soon. All kinds of groups do or have done this, to wildly varying degrees of success: The Goodmans, Greater Vision, the Hoppers, the Lesters, the Easters, the Nelons and on and on.In gospel music, have family, will travel with (often screaming) child, who will be dutifully trotted out on stage and given a microphone in order to (usually) bellow his or her way through some old standard in that metallic, monotone yell that young children mistake for singing, so that mom or dad or grandpa or grandma can immediately pronounce the result unequivocal evidence that the next generation has inherited the family talent.

The old saying in entertainment goes that five minutes from a kid gets a better response than 20 of the best adults, but that’s often because we’re hoping that if we clap loud enough, you won’t subject us to any more of the kid.

A few points to distill from this dynamic:

1. It’s not, as the commenter notes above, the child’s fault. I’m no development pediatrician, but I’d wager that it’s unfair to critique children’s singing as one would an adult’s until  … well, they have vocally developed most of the attributes we find in adult singers. I have no idea when that is and I imagine it’s slightly to majorly different from one person to the next. But at the very least, it probably means after puberty. Call it the musical age of accountability.

Whenever it is, until a kid has reliable control physiologically over her voice, and is old enough to be standing on stage mainly of her own volition, whatever musical sins a child commits redounds to the parent, guardian or handler who’s thrusting the child prematurely into the spotlight.

2. No. 1 above does not mean listening to pre-pubescent children “sing” is pleasant most of the time, nor are we as listeners obligated to pretend that it is when it manifestly is not. In southern gospel especially, artists have a vested interested in creating an early and lasting impression of their family as a musical dynasty, and history amply demonstrates that these families are rarely shy about co-opting the general goodwill most audience’s extend to children and claiming that a crowd’s generic fondness for kids is a particular sign of approval for their singing, and by extension, the family at large.

Corollary to No. 2: The sooner you get a child hooked on the applause, the more likely the child will want to carry on the family bidness. And in turn, the sooner audiences will begin to believe that most other people think the kid is as good as the family handlers say they are. Which is to say, the business side of gospel music deeply disincentivizes doing the safest thing and keeping children away from a microphone until they are sufficiently self-possessed to decide if a) they are ready to try to hold their own vocally on stage and b) if they even want to get on stage in the first place, no matter how well they can sing.

3. Just because someone grows up to be a good singer doesn’t mean you’re wrong in your memory of their childhood performances as endangering the integrity of your inner ear.

4. If you put your kid out on stage, you gotta expect people to comment about the quality of the sonic experience that child creates. Sorry. Just the way it is. In a perfect world, no one would ever say hurtful things about a child, and anyway, children would be able to understand that comments about their singing are not judgments about their personal worth. But in that same perfect world, children who are unprepared for the side-effects or consequences of the stage wouldn’t be thrust into the spotlight for reasons and purposes that are not primarily about what’s best for them as children (and not, say, their reputation as the well-born heir of a gospel music family). The best way to avoid unwanted criticism of child performers is to avoid prematurely turning kids into performers in the first place.

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Comments

  1. anthony wrote:

    Howdy, i often find some of things discussed on this forum putred, (straining at a nat). this is one, (WHO CARES). MOST OF THE TIME, CHRISTIANITY CAN’T BE FOUND HERE. i’ll say most of the time were looking at the message in the messenger, for the most part, the messenger doesn’t have the message. the song says one thing but the messenger says another. Biblicly most messengers in (sg) and definately not in country music line up with the bible. If were going to see Jesus shouldn’t it be all the time, and not part time. As far as the bowlings go and bringing there child on to sing, Jesus said it best in John, what’s it to you, follow me.

  2. Beckie Simmons wrote:

    I have never posted on this site before, but since I know this family and artist very well, I feel I must respond. First of all, I’m appalled that anyone would criticize a child for singing and appearing on stage. I think it’s incredible and parents should be applauded for involving their children in their careers and encouraging them to love the Lord, live for Him and sing for Him. A lot of major artists involve their children and the fans love to see them on stage, no matter how good or bad they sing!

    For the record, Hope CAN sing. Today I talked to a promoter whose family wore t-shirts to a concert this past weekend that read, “Let Hope sing”. Different strokes for different folks! Glad we all do not like the same thing!

    By the way, Hope is in her second year as a member of a Nashville Children’s Choir at Belmont. These children are highly trained and Belmont is an elite Music college. Membership to the choir is only achieved by audition. I think she may have been the youngest member last year! Obviously, Hope’s parents believe in training, as well as experience!

    Everyone I know is proud of Mike and Kelly and especially proud of Hope. Keep singing, my dear. We’ll see who has the last laugh! My opinion as well as lots of others, “Can’t wait to hear your project!” I’ll even buy one!

    That’s how I see it “From Where I Sit” since I sit in this seat approximately 70 hours a week, doing this full time! and, by the way, I love my job!

    P.S. For the record, Hope quit singing with her Dad on stage when she was four years old and started back again about a year ago (I just researched this). She sings by her own choice!

  3. Casual Observer wrote:

    Love is blind….and apparently deaf

  4. JM wrote:

    As long as this discussion has taken off, I’d like to expand the reach just a bit. My wife and I used to look forward to the appearences of a well known pianist in our area of the country (secular, not gospel). However, she gave birth to the first of two children about 5-6 years ago. As soon as the child was able to travel with mommy and daddy, the petulant and ill-tempered child became the focus of her mother’s increasingly dischordant and unappealing concerts. We tried to overlook the obvious degeneratation of the content for awhile; however, the value of her music had become seriously compromised, in our opinion, due to the childish histrionics. We stll purchase her recordings, but will not attend her concerts. I want families to bond, love each other and celebrate the depth of their relationship; however, PLEASE don’t ask me to devote my time, attention or dollars to watching a performer raise their child on stage. Some children are well behaved and some are not. Some have talent and some don’t. Some “stage parents” have a realistic viewpoint on the talent of their children and some don’t. However, I go to a concert for inspiration, not to provide childcare services. Many will see these comments as unkind or uncaring. Let me leave you with this thought: If you see a SGM group “hauling” a child along with them on the road, think carefully about the welfare of that child. Many late nights, sharing a bus or trailer with many other people, “pushed” in front of crowds of strangers night after night, few friends of their own age or interests. Exactly who is being uncaring now?

  5. BoughtaTicket wrote:

    I promised myself a few years ago that I would never attend another Heirline concert after being forced to listen to a child, that could not sing remotely well, sing for way too long.

    However, I have heard some really good child singers at times, several years ago the Lesters had a couple of them that have now grown up.

  6. DMP wrote:

    I haven’t heard the performance in question, so my comments are very general. Putting a kid up to sing is a win/win for everybody but the audience. Think about these performances at you church. Any 10 year old who is REALLY good is viewed as more of a freak whose age does not allow them to believably sing lyrics beyond their years. If they are average, we give pity applause, and if they are terrible, we say, “Well bless their heart. Weren’t they cute?” I don’t think most people enjoy child performers, but people love to throw their kids out there. Anthony, you’re right, Jesus did say it best, Judge not, that ye be not judged.

  7. JLL wrote:

    My parents (along with my aunt & uncle) sang in various local churches throughout my childhood. My sister and I were always horrified when that unavoidable moment came–the moment when it was time for the family sing-a-long. I will never forget the many times we were dragged (often literally kicking and screaming) to the front of the church to join our parents. Usually it was “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God…” To add insult to injury, my parents had the foresight to tape record these “precious” moments and take every opportunity (even now that my sister and I are in our forties) to replay them–not just for us, but for other family members, friends, and neighbors. It may be a cherished memory for my mother, but the sound of those tapes sends a chill down my spine to this very day!

  8. KDM wrote:

    JM, good post. I think you made your point without being cruel or antagonistic. Some people are just bowled over by anything a kid does, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent. Nothing wrong with that. Others are not so easily impressed. It’s not a personal affront to the kids…but their parents should be more sensitive to the interests of their paying (captive) audiences before turning their concerts into mini-recitals for their over-young children. Of course YOU think your child is precious, talented, gifted, etc. It’s your child. Don’t be offended, though if not everyone shares your opinion.

    In defense of the kids, I agree with JLL. What’s good for Mom and Dad isn’t always good for Junior. I was in some very similar situations as a child, being forced on stage before I was ready. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth decades later. Parents, PLEASE don’t force your kids onto the stage if they’re not completely comfortable with it! You could sour them on the whole business if you’re not careful!

  9. RF wrote:

    I have always been amused at people’s fascination with kids singing. The Christmas play at church (which usually features several songs sung by eight-year-olds) is the heaviest function of the year at our church. That crowd doesn’t include me, however. I love children and even have them of my own, but I’ve never found anything in their public performances to sway me to think it’s something I need to do beyond anything else. Thank goodness that they didn’t have video cameras when I made my debut. I’m sure the old ladies thought I was cute, but…

  10. jbb wrote:

    RF: You gotta be kidding me. Kids in a local church christmas play… Why would you not support that??? Is it only singing or is it anything else children do that they are not good at?

  11. wackythinker wrote:

    Beckie — Thanks for taking the high road, after I made the effort to apologize. ;-)

    You didn’t think I’d been chastised enough? One more time might be needed?

    Bless you!

  12. Sam wrote:

    The Collingsworth Family is a group that has kept it classy, in my opinion. The “kids” are showing a lot of talent & poise on stage these days, but I’m sure their mom and dad have watched their progress carefully and featured them accordingly over the years. In a recent newsletter, Kim Collingsworth made reference to her son’s voice change being complete, and that he would now be featured more on his own. That is evidence of someone using patience and wisdom. I really look forward to hearing the “kids” sing. They do well! Excellent harmony, easy on the ears, etc. Good job, Phil and Kim.

  13. quartet-man wrote:

    #12 Sam, I agree in regards to the Collingsworths (from what I have seen) The very youngest did group things a little bit, but weren’t featured much if at all when they were really young. Just enough to be involved, have a part, and probably get a few “aws”, but then that was about it from what I have heard and what little I saw myself. The older ones got involved more. The eldest daughter really had a mature voice for her age several years ago from what I heard on a SG video program.

  14. Sandy wrote:

    After listening to “Hope” on youtube, all I can say is, I will stay as far away from a Bowling Family concert as I can. I don’t care that she is in the Nashville’s Childrens Choir, people that pay good money for a ticket to a SG concert, should not be subjected to a child’s yelling. If they are going to have her sing, then they should make everybody aware before buying their ticket, then their will be no surprises. I have a real problem with groups sticking their children in your face, you go to the concert to hear the group, if I wanted to hear children sing, then I would follow childrens’ choirs, not SG music.

  15. Wesley Vaughn wrote:

    I am amazed about some adults are ashamed of hearing children sing gospel music. I have never posted on here until now….

    I am a soloist. I have a 3 year old boy who sings. I know the Bowling Family. I have heard Hope sing.

    Where I am going with this, you probably already know. My son at the age of three gets up on stage and sings. And he loves it. Do I or my wife force him to do it? No, we don’t. Before each service He asks me if he can sing. And of course, I say yes.

    As for Hope, SHE CAN SING!!!! I applaud Mike and Kelly for allowing her to sing Gospel music. I think that I’d rather hear a child sing Gospel music, rather than end up singing some secular form, such as Rap, Rock, etc. It’s the message that can touch lives that she’s spreading. I’d rather hear Hope Bowling than Hannah Montana. Think of the role model that Hope can be. The lives she can touch. The people she may lead to Christ.

    Think of it this way, would you like someone to die and spend eternity in hell because you discourage someone who quit sharing the Gospel thru song due to their youthful age or your opinion of them?

    Keep on singing Hope!!!

    Wesley Vaughn
    Rogersville, TN

  16. BK wrote:

    Sandy, maybe you should stay at home!! Someone as cruel as you should be at home anyway, maybe under house arrest. You have to be a pretty miserable individual to spend your time criticizing a 9 year old child. I am SO SURE that you are a loving fan. The Bowlings lost a lot when you decided to NOT go see them.

    God help you. I pray you don’t get what you deserve. But somehow, I think you will. I have to tell all of you that there is a price for this kind of behavior. KIDS are the joy of most of our lives. GET over it. There is a name for women like you!!

    Watch your back, yours is coming.

  17. Nate Stainbrook wrote:

    12. Totally agree about the Collingsworth family…

  18. Todd wrote:

    Sandy I don’t think anybody gives a crap what you think!!!! I wish everyone one would go to youtube and listen to her singing Acapella. I think she sounds great!

  19. BK wrote:

    LEAVE HOPE ALONE, LEAVE HOPE ALONE, LEAVE HOPE ALONE. SHE IS 9 YEARS OLD.

  20. Wade wrote:

    Been telling y’all some powerful ppl monitor the site. I promise you if Beckie S is on here ALL of her artist are as well.

    Anybody seriously involved in SGM reads this… if they say they don’t…well ya know!!

  21. ticked wrote:

    Sandy, if you are going to have this kind of attitude, then you have no place at a SG concert, so maybe you need to go to the alter and ask forgiveness for the hateful attitude you have towards Hope, she is an innocent child, what has she ever done to you? You are PITIFUL and PATHETIC and you are in my prayers!

  22. DMP wrote:

    I’ts okay Sandy, I’ll back you up.

  23. Blake Edmondson wrote:

    #5 Boughta ticket: You might want to go back to hear Heirline again and hear Landon lately. He has really improved and Ernie is just trying to get him some experience and has obviously worked with him. If you heard him a couple of years ago, he was about 7 or 8. I think he did well for that age. Plus, if you heard them and don’t want to go back for that reason alone, you must not appreciate the spirit they bring to their concerts. Ernie Dawson is as genuine a person as anyone in gospel music.

  24. RDB wrote:

    I think its perfectly reasonable to let your kid sing a song if they’re up for it. After that you should be considerate of your audience and what they came for and paid for. Don’t build your concert around your ten-year-old or eight-year-old kid.

    As far as Christmas plays are concerned, I don’t think you usually have to pay to get into the church Christmas play. In that case, there’s lots of parents, etc. so of course they love to hear their kid sing. Nothin’ wrong with that. Don’t like it, bring ear plugs.

  25. cheeseburger wrote:

    I’ve actually never heard Hope Bowling sing… don’t know if I ever will. But here’s the deal:

    If someone doesn’t like hearing her sing, that’s their prerogative. If they love her singing… hey, that’s good too.

    This is an open forum, and people can share their thoughts and opinions on whatever they like.

    It’s no different than me getting on here saying that I can’t stand traditional quartet music and then saying that I can’t stand such and such singer. It’s just an opinion. Everybody’s got one. And it’s your right to either agree or disagree. But to personally attack a person whose opinion is different than your own is just outrageous… and if you’re an industry professional and you’re getting on here attacking people because their opinion differs from yours, then shame on you.

    I think we could all learn a lesson or two in civility and speaking to one another out of love and not out of anger.

  26. JM wrote:

    Perhaps Wade (#20) is right and some of the movers and shakers of SGM are weighing in on this thread. However, from the perspective of marketing, you are hearing a number of people (and perhaps some who buy tickets and CD’s) giving you a wealth of valuable imput. I understand that you may not care for the manner in which their perspective is being presented. Unfortunately, some folks are a bit more blunt and less skillful in their criticism. Nonetheless, it should not diminish the thrust of the message. To that point, please understand that at least some of your audiences are not terribly taken with singing children. This may not be what you wish to hear and it may not fit into how you wish to set your programs. However, this site has stimulated occassional conversations regarding the sorry state of SGM performances. Perhaps some groups should consider exactly what concert supporters come to see and hear and what they don’t want to see or hear. Food for thought.

  27. BK wrote:

    Agreed, if I thought these were ticket buyers and average fans. I don’t.

  28. cynical one wrote:

    cheesburger #25 — You’re absolutely right. And there is still freedom of speech in this country.

    We may need some lessons in tact, but we do have the right to express our opintions.

    And thank you, Doug, for providing this forum for such expressions on this topic.

  29. Sandy wrote:

    Thanks #22 DMP, I have nothing against children singing, but I feel if they are going to have the children on the program, we should be made aware prior to buying tickets to hear a group sing. This is not the first time groups have done this, and Mike and Kelly are not the only ones that are guilty of pushing their child out in the front for all to see. I have to give Dean and Kim Hopper credit for waiting until Karlye was able to sing and present herself well on stage before letting her perform with them. I really enjoy hearing her, as she can sing, and I feel she has a lot of potential if that is what she wants to do in the future. Another situation, is Morgan Easter, she is doing a great job on stage, but Jeff and Sherri waited till she was poised and ready to be out on stage, and it is very obvious that she had to have done a lot of singing growing up, or she would not be able to do as well as she does now. I just have a problem, with the groups that let their child practice on us. That is not what we pay to see. I realize this is a ministry and not entertainment, but have you ever gone to a revival, where the Evangielist let his five year old child preach half of the sermon??

  30. Just Me wrote:

    The Collingsworth Family is at least classy in their performance. The children sing on pitch and the whole experience leaves you wanting more.

    The Browns on the other hand need pitch control on their live sound system (is there is such a thing). This is the reason SG continues to see lowering attendance and sales.

    I cringe each time I hear the Browns sing and play. I overheard a old man behind me say, “I’d like to go break them fiddles in two and hand them back to them” and say, “Here play em now, they sound better”. I about fell in the floor.

    I know I am about to be scolded. I really don’t care at this point. Someone, somewhere needs to speak the truth in Southern Gospel as we watch the ship go down. But everyone is simply championing the bad singing, the drug dealers, the alcoholics, the child molesters and the Man/Woman whores as “Superstars” and God is simply pulling the plug. “Don’t swim in the wake as the ship sinks below the surface”.

  31. DMP wrote:

    Welcome aboard flight 2367 to Denver, Colorado. My 7 year old son is onboard today and thinks he may want to be a pilot, so fasten those seatbelts, cause he’ll be landing the plane today…

  32. cynical one wrote:

    Sandy,

    As a matter of fact, I just heard a couple of weeks ago about a pastor who allowed his 7 year old to preach his first sermon. I wasn’t there, but I’m not sure of the wisdom of that, on SO many levels.

  33. Madison Easter wrote:

    Just putting in my two cents, take it for what it’s worth.

    I understand not wanting to hear a child sing several songs in, what you thought, was going to be an “adult” concert, that makes total sense. I also understand that from the perspective of a proud parent, you want to “show off” your child’s talents as much as possible, this too makes total sense.

    I will say that being around this scene my entire life, the majority of fans (nice little old ladies) enjoy seeing kids get up on the stage. They get a bit of a glow on their faces and beam with a sort of pride as if the child were their own. The majority of Southern Gospel fans are not bloggers, posters, or even web surfers, that group makes only a dent in the Southern Gospel fan base. This is something that the artists that “lurk” on these sites need to realize, these commenters (normally no more than 100 different people) do not feel the way that most of your fans feel. You can’t let a few negative posts get you upset and ready to fight. For every negative post you read online, I guarantee there are twenty-five positive thoughts about you or your family that never even make it to the internet.

    I’ve gotten off topic, I apologize. What I was trying to get around to is this, most of these parents can’t keep their kids off of the stage. However, the tone of some of the more negative posts would suggest otherwise. The negative comments make it sound as if these parents are forcing children on stage. I can tell you this much, most of these kids will have their feelings crushed if they don’t get a chance to go on stage a particular night, and any parent will tell you that you will do anything to make your child happy. However, this should also be controlled. You can’t let your child take up the majority of your set, for fear of a tantrum later. The fans paid a ticket price (not in all cases, necessarily) to see you.

    The only solution to this disagreement is the same solution to every disagreement, compromise. Let the kids have fun and sing a song, show off their talents and be proud parents. After their song, get back to your set.

    If you read a post that gets you upset, go back and read just one of the positive fan letters you’ve received. I understand (very well if you recall some of my previous comments) getting riled up when someone is talking about your family, but remember, most of the people that do this have never had their family placed on a public platform and ridiculed.

    Just try to stay positive, life will be a lot more enjoyable for you and everyone around you.

    -ME

    P.S. My personal opinion: Hope can sing. We performed with them two weeks ago in Seminole, Ok and I noticed how well she was singing a harmony part for a nine year old. The kid’s got talent.

  34. RDB wrote:

    Thanks Madison, that’s some pretty sane commentary. I think that about says all that needs to be said about a subject that admittedly can be exhausted fairly quickly.

  35. E wrote:

    Sandy, Morgan Easter did practice on you. She has performed a song, when time permitted, since a very young age ( three or four). She had a solo album when she was 8 or 9 I think. And
    I remember a year ago when you buzzards were on here picking her to death.

    I have seen Mike and Kelly feature Hope. She sings the chorus of one song! Mike sings both verses. This is almost comical. When we saw them in KY, she didn’t sing at all. There wasn’t enough time. You have no idea what you are talking about, obviously.

    You want to complain. That’s it in a nutshell!! I am sure you are a joy to spend time with.

  36. gina wrote:

    Nice to see that one of the well-known participants in this genre of music can comment and give his opinion in a respectful manner. He even did so without tearing down and insulting anyone else to do it! Good post, Madison, and fwiw, you gained even more respect in my eyes.

  37. Michelle wrote:

    #4 JM, I cannot speak for all of the families on the road with kids, but I can speak for Mike and Kelly, the girls are not up late every night, they have a set bedtime and are usually in bed no later than 9 on school nights, even if we are on the road. On the week days that we are on the road, the girls go to a christian school, where they have the opportunity to be around plenty of kids their own age and with their own interests. When we are on the road, their teachers send their work with us so that they can keep up with the rest of the class. This is both a financial and convenience sacrifice that Mike and Kelly make in order to do everything they can to insure that their girls have as normal a life as possible. In my opinion, it is better for the girls to go on the road (which they love, by the way), than to go 3 or 4 days a week without seeing their parents. I commend Mike and Kelly for wanting to raise their own children. Also, with our lifestyle, the girls get the opportunity to see and do more than most of the other kids their age. Majority of the people on our bus are family members, and they are not FORCED to share a trailer with many other people.They are not forced to go on the road, they love every minute of it.
    For those of you complaining that the kids take up too much time in the program that you paid to attend, the kids usually spend a grand total of no more than 10 minutes on stage every night in concerts that usually last an hour and a half to two hours. If you do the math, that’s about 1/12 of the program, if you can’t sit there for that long to allow the kids their chance to minister, then that may be a good time to take a bathroom break. And, as #23 E pointed out, when Hope does sing, she sings the chorus of ONE song, while Mike sings the verses, an she’s singing the chorus with Mike and Terah. I honestly don’t see how anyone can have a problem with that. Half of the time, that gets the biggest applause of the night. I realize that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but there is a difference between criticizing and bashing an adult singer, which can also be hurtful, and criticizing a nine year old CHILD, who has no way of defending herself. Just think if you were a parent, how it would feel to get online and read these things about your child. I am only Hope’s babysitter and these comments upset me, so I can’t imagine how her parents must feel.

  38. Yada Yada wrote:

    Okay, it’s clear by youtube (have you heard that acapella clip?) that Hope is a good singer and some have a problem with it - big deal and you probably don’t go to Mike and Kelly Bowling, excuse me, The Bowling Family concerts anyway, so whatever, I think enough has been said, and it ain’t gonna change the way they conduct their concerts I’m almost positive. Also, on other threads the Bowlings have been seperately and collectively put down as being hard to work for or hard to get along with, yet all of their current employees (babysitter michelle) and past employees (chris witaker, jeff snyder, & troy peach - but not sure if troy actually worked for or with them) have gotten on here and said otherwise. So, can we put a cap on this subject and let these people go do their thing? I don’t agree with them on everything, but who cares?

  39. Michelle rocks wrote:

    Michelle rocks. She don’t want yal talking about her babies! She has some pretty valid points.

  40. Just Me wrote:

    None of this $%#& has anything to do with ministering to hurting people! All of you should be ASHAMED of yourselves, but I know your not!

    Mike and Kelly, “SUPERSTARS”, their kid…future “SUPERSTAR”. Go ahead keep it up, keep showing the world how GREAT you are! While people are hurting; divorce, abuse, hunger and hurt runs rampant, all you #$%$ers can do is ARGUE AND FIGHT OVER THIS KIND OF $#^#. EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO VOMIT!

  41. The Truth in Love wrote:

    My first introduction to the common Southern Gospel practice of bringing children up on stage to sing at a concert happened at an event with several artists on the bill (no one named here so far) — and time was short for each group to have enough time to sing.

    I’ll just say that I was very uncomfortable when I heard this child strain his voice on a lengthy song he performed alone. I hoped that the applause from the crowd did not convince the child that he was singing well, because he was not in pitch, and his volume tore the roof off.

    Child-centered homes are not wise, and child-centered concerts can be painful — if the children are not ready. Family gatherings, school events, or home church services seem to be the best place for introducing young musicians to an audience — and building their abilities and their confidence for the future. Even if the child loves to sing, and sings for Jesus, a paid concert is less than ideal — whereas Sunday night church or the Labor Day picnic at Grandpa and Grandma’s house would fit perfectly.

    Thanks to the person who mentioned The Collingsworth Family in this discussion. They seem to be great stewards in encouraging growth in the talents of their children, while walking the fine line of good taste on stage, and wisdom in raising spiritually mature, musically disciplined, humble kids.

  42. jenn wilkerson wrote:

    Sandy, You are a very cruel person! You should just stay home! Hope is a precious child who has more talent than a lot of adults out there in SGM! Bless her and Mike and Kelly….I love and appreciate their ministry and their hearts.

  43. Wade wrote:

    Hey Just Me….

    This is not a ministry site in case you have not noticed!! I doubt you come her to get ministered too!!!

    Go to a number of others if that is what you are looking… oh…and nice touch with your #$%$ etc… that was real ministry minded from some one preaching to us!! Give us a break!!!

    Gargle real good after you vomit!! So while you are minister at the alter you won’t kill them with your yack breath!!!

    TGIF!!!

  44. BUICK wrote:

    Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be…Gospel Sangers (got to say that pretty fast to fit it into the tempo);

    Don’t let them be basses and pianists and tenors and such.

    Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be…Gospel Sangers;

    They’ll be criticized and judged and evaluated too much.

    Seems to me if you go on the stage in front of the public, you have to expect and accept the reaction of the public. And if you take your kids with you, you have to expect and accept that the public will react to your kids. You LOVE it when the reaction is positive but can’t take it when the reaction is not? Then you are not secure enough to put your kids in the spotlight. Don’t expect everyone to respond to your kid’s efforts the way his mother does. Moms are not objective and they are not supposed to be. None of us are as good as our moms (and dogs) think we are. (Nor as irrelevant as our cats act like we are.)

  45. Just Me wrote:

    Hey Wade! !@#$%^&*(). Translate please.

  46. Wade wrote:

    Just Me…

    Your character cussing is just cussing on credit as I heard a Sunday School…sorry Small Group Facilitator I heard say recently… if you are going to come on here and try to make this a ministry site I just found it funny you would cuss while doing it. Go ahead if you want… no judging or hatin’ from me!!! But I do enjoy calling BS and pointing out hypocrites!!

    Buick…good point and it made me think… all of these SGM MOMMA’S & DADDY’S do not mind when ppl are nice and give great applause when maybe it is not earned. But BOY…

    When some one in BAD TASTE is a critic they come out of the wood work to SLAM BACK!!! Yes we were collectively called stupid by a genius writing to defend.

    YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS FOLKS!!

    Although I am sure many of you are like my 2nd former wife… YOU’LL TRY!!!

  47. weber wrote:

    # Blake, Ernie Dawson is one of the worst singers in gospel music. I sure hope he is not teaching his son. I think Mike & Kelly Bowling are just exploiting the child for sales at the record table. Groups have been doing this for years. It all boils down to self interest.

  48. JR wrote:

    #45: !@#$%^&*() Translation…Excited, at, pound, money, percentage, up, and, see below, parentheses. I think it is a sneaky veiled attempt to convey excitement over getting a kickback from booking certain groups, although the pound is throwing me slightly. Maybe he is going to hire a hitman. It is a direct quote from Sarge in the Beetle Bailey Comics.

  49. Just Me wrote:

    ok

  50. Just Me wrote:

    Sorry Translation: “1234567890″ Lighten up!

  51. Glenn wrote:

    This is the first time I have gone to the comments on this thread. I read the first comment and don’t have a clue what Anthony said. I have no opinion about Hope, but I assume any kid of Mike and Kelly Bowling can’t be all that bad. With that said, I loved DMP’s #31 comment. That is funny. Wade #43, right on.

  52. Ben Storie wrote:

    I guess all this discussion is a little confusing to me. Isn’t Southern Gospel’s history filled with family groups whose children sang, including the Crabb Family, Hemphills, Goodmans, Tally Trio, etc?

    I guess I see it differently than some on here. I enjoy seeing a child put forth their best effort. My daughter is already showing musical giftings/interest and I am encouraging her to explore those talents and how she can develop them. Maybe a ninety minute concert with a child performer would be a little too much, but I don’t think that’s what the Bowlings or most other family groups identified here are doing.

    Next topic please.

  53. quartet-man wrote:

    #51 Glenn, Anthony said

    “Howdy, i often find some of things discussed on this forum putred, (straining at a nat). this is one, (WHO CARES). MOST OF THE TIME, CHRISTIANITY CAN’T BE FOUND HERE. i’ll say most of the time were looking at the message in the messenger, for the most part, the messenger doesn’t have the message. the song says one thing but the messenger says another. Biblicly most messengers in (sg) and definately not in country music line up with the bible. If were going to see Jesus shouldn’t it be all the time, and not part time. As far as the bowlings go and bringing there child on to sing, Jesus said it best in John, what’s it to you, follow me.”

    ;-)

  54. Tommy wrote:

    Lets not miss the real issue here. Groups like the Bowlings are exploiting their children to help win fans over. Mike Bowlong is one of the best singers in the business and deosnt need to use gimics. If it really is because their daughter just cant wait to get on stage and feed her ego then it is a parenting issue. It feels like the parents of those pagent kids who say it was their childs “dream” to do this….at two years old. Its great for them to teach her to sing, and when she’s matured vocally and as a person she’ll be great. Untill then let her sing at home or on the bus. Groups wonder why people wont pay to go to a concert and then they do things like this. If I paide money and had to sit through a kid screaming, I would ask for my money back.

  55. Joe wrote:

    A fascinating thread. But, as I read, not a single commenter has even hinted at what I see as the biggest problem with letting little kids sing. It ain’t the music!

    Over the years, there have been many, many singers that have grown up singing in a SGM family, from as early-on as they can remember. And during many of those years, they were never saved.

    How many SGM singers have we heard testimonies from, of this very thing? Singing saved music does not get one saved. Yes, it can be a good thing- better than alot of things kids can get into. But it can be very confusing to a little kid. Singing the same music as saved parents, can lull them into thinking all is well, when they have never been reached and saved.

    Just ask Brian Free, and a number of others like him.

  56. Tommy wrote:

    Great post. Boy thats true. You can go on and on naming people who openly talk about going through the motions. Danny Funderbur, Ivan Parker, Bryan Hudson, etc. If you watch the videos on youtube of the Bowlings, their daughter has all the mnoves of an adult SG singer. She has already “learned” how to look on stage. They learn how to mimic what Mom and Dad do night after night. They have a head knowledge without a heart knowledge.

  57. jbb wrote:

    In “their” defense, I think I remember reading or hearing that Hope Bowling is saved and that is not up to us to judge this. Can you see her heart??? I don’t think so.

  58. Joe wrote:

    jbb- I was not “judging” Hope’s heart, nor those of her parents. I have not yet seen or heard her/them. If she is truly saved, then thank the Lord.

    I am only going from my hearing dozens of testimonies over 40 years from those who started singing with family groups as very young children, and who never got saved until the Lord, by His mercy and grace, awakened and saved them many years later.

    Brian Free’s testimony is on a Gold City CD, and I heard him tell it in person. It was positively gripping. The first I heard of these was Mylon LeFevre’s. I just wanted to throw into the mix this spiritual concern. Tommy mentioned 3 more names; there are dozens of others.

    Please read Mt. 7:21-23, and Luke 13:22-30.

  59. jbb wrote:

    Joe, please accept my apology.

  60. Tim wrote:

    A childlike undeveloped voice has no business on a professional stage as far as I am concerned. Cute or not. ya never saw the Hinsons do it… take head people.

  61. Tim wrote:

    heed even

  62. Yada Yada wrote:

    jbb…good job on using “their” the correct way…

  63. Joe wrote:

    jbb- apology accepted; none needed. I tried to respond from my Blackberry, but it didn’t seem to go thru- if you get 2 posts saying the same thing, you’re doubly forgiven!

  64. Tommy wrote:

    I think its great that they have raised her in a Christian home and are teaching her the music business. I just think they need to let her mature before throwing her on stage as a “Professional”. I am one who cant stand when groups bring their pre-teen or teen child in to fill the sopt they cant seem to keep a good singer in. These are the things that make observers laugh at SG music. I dont recall ever seeing the Eagles have their kids come on stage. It makes them look amateur.

  65. Robin Milby wrote:

    I applaud Mike & Kelly Bowling for allowing Hope to sing. She is gifted, and the experience is a great launching pad for whatever God has in store for her musically in her life.

  66. observeroffools wrote:

    All I can say is that you people really SUCK. To stoop so low as to criticize and attack a child. You people really are the spawn of satan.

  67. tusk molarr wrote:

    #66 observeroffools
    and it’s not stooping low to tell people they suck and they’re the spawn of satan?

  68. BUICK wrote:

    #66, it isn’t really attacking a child to make comments here, no matter how insulting. She can’t be on the stage without her parents’ permission and she shouldn’t be on here without her parents’ permission. I say again, if they want to shield her from criticism, keep her off the stage…and keep her from reading this site. When the parents trot her into the spotlight, THEY have put her in the public eye and have opened her up to fan reaction. If fans don’t applaud, are they cruel? If they only politely clap, are they mean for not feigning more enthusiasm? Is the audience obligated to stroke the egos of the parents? (And make no mistake, it is not the child’s ego that the parents are trying to feed, it is their own.)

    The preacher’s kid grows up in the parsonage and is subject to unblinking scrutiny. Unfair? No: just a fact of life in the ministry. The singers’ kids do not live in that kind of fishbowl. But the parents can CHOOSE to put their kid in that position if they put them on stage. If the family (parents and child), can’t take the heat, they should stay out of the lights.

    For those of you who think it is mean to critique the child of a SGM artist, when does that change? When Jimmy Blackwood turned 12? When Kim Green hit puberty? When Candy Hemphill got married? When Johnathan Wilburn left the family group and joined GCQ? Or are they to live in a bubble of protection throughout their lives? I say, when they run with the big dogs, they have to put up with the fleas, the ticks and the worms.

  69. observeroffools wrote:

    The truth hurts doesn’t it? You’ll get used it and if not, who cares? You people are soooo jealous of a 9 year old girl because because she has more talent and more of an audience than you’ll ever have…LOL.

  70. Faith wrote:

    Wow…this really made me laugh. I have sat through TOO MANY concerts where some kid is trotted out on stage and they go through the motions of what a gospel singer does…without a SHRED of talent whatsoever.
    One local group used to travel with their kids, none of whom could sing nearly as good as the parents; the kid that was featured the most had the most embarrassing lisp you can imagine. Then they would do their “instrumental”, with the kid on piano playing with one hand, and another kid basically making screeching sounds on her violin…appalling.
    Another local group still travels with their “kids”, who are young adults now…and still completely talentless. Why would anyone want to watch a family who can’t sing pretending that they can? One kid banging some drums, another one on violin, and another on piano…UGH. I shudder just thinking about it. It is SO annoying to hear the parents bragging about their brood as if one of them just found a cure for cancer, and then listening to kids that don’t know the meaning of the word “harmony” screaming into their microphones.
    To all you crazies who cannot believe that anyone could be annoyed at a child performer, well, I feel sorry for you, and I am very thankful that you are not my parents.
    A final thought: I guess this is indicative of the sinking ship of SG music, as someone pointed out earlier. In NO OTHER GENRE could you get away with a crappy performance - kids and adults alike! In NO OTHER GENRE would a paying audience be forced to sit through some five-year-old yelling from the stage with Ma and Pa beaming at them, because in 90% of the cases, Ma and Pa have no talent, either. Harsh, but true.

  71. susan wrote:

    Hope sings her tushy off, most adults in sg
    are average at bets..I said most, not talking about TaRanda or Jason or even Mike B. This kid is funny, smart and talented enough to do it all. She can sing, she can probably act, she is an exceptional child.

    Maybe we should all be real nice to her. We know how much money kid stars make!!

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