Quote of the day
A reader offers some thoughts on my confusion about Barbara Mandrell:
I wonder if SG’s sudden interest in Barbara Mandrell isn’t, in actuality, Barbara’s sudden interest in SG. We’ve all known for years that Barbara is a devout Christian but it seems to me that it wasn’t until her son married a failed-country-singer-turned-gospel-singer that suddenly Barbara allows herself and her name to be used to promote award show events, as long as daughter-in-law Christy Sutherland comes along for the ride and gets to sing her latest single.
I also think that gospel music’s fascination with mainstream acts (Mandrell and anyone else who happens to even hint at having some kind of faith) is that we have a big ole inferiority complex that says “mainstream acts are better.” I don’t think it’s just southern gospel either; take a look at the long list of b, c, and d-list mainstream performers who take the stage at the Doves Awards every year and horribly mispronounce everyone’s name, proving to us and the world that they have no knowledge of our industry whatsoever. All of this is under the guise of attracting a larger audience to either the award show or the tv show, but does it? Does the average unaware-of-gospel-music person happen to see that Billy Baldwin is presenting on the Doves and suddenly decide to tune in? Or do country fans hear that Barbara’s being given an award and suddenly decide to call up and buy a ticket to sit through the long event just to see what Barbara’s wearing and to hear her say 20 words of thanks to whatever organization is presenting her with the honor? I don’t think so. But maybe I’m wrong.
I just really wish that we in gospel music had enough respect for what we do that we didn’t feel the need to pull names from other genres of music to feel validated.
However, having said all of that…if I got to choose between sitting through a has-been gushing about how much she loves this industry (even though she only did one gospel album almost 30 years ago) or sitting through another one of Dennis Swanberg’s awkwardly unfunny bits, I would choose Mandrell any day of the week.
Update: Judy Nelon, who describes herself as a “devoted southern gospel fan and advocate” in a recent email and who has been one of the key people responsible for the attention Mandrell is receiving in the industry these days, writes:
Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters NBC variety television show was my all-time favorite. When Barbara first agreed to do the show she insisted the NBC executives let her have seven minutes of southern gospel music at the end of each weekly segment. She was a tiny lady but stood tall when she spoke of the love she had for gospel music. The NBC executives allowed her to do this for a trial of two weeks but with the high ratings and 40 million devoted viewers each week she proved she was right. Southern Gospel Music won…..we all won. Barbara and her sister Louise Mandrell have featured southern gospel music regularly on their concerts. Today one of our leading groups The Triumphant Quartet on Daywind Records began as regular members of the Louise Mandrell theater in Pigeon Forge. Barbara recently retired from her singing career but is still highly regarded with a large fan base. She was recently recognized by being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. If there were country artists today that included gospel music on their television and concert tours it would benefit more than any other exposure.
Barbara as well as Louise are long over due on the Gospel Music world expressing our appreciation for the exposure they have given to the BEST music in the world. Please join me in saying “Thank you Barbara.” Maybe this will shine a light that opens up other opportunities for our music to play to huge mainstream audiences. I believe that gospel music wins when it gets a chance to be heard.
Nelon also sent along two clips of Mandrell as well. The first, a clip from Barbara Mandrell & The Mandrell Sisters show, featuring The Blackwood Brothers. (created from the NBC show for GMA Week/SGMG Harmony Honors earlier this year).
The second, a GAC clip from GMA week/SGMG Harmony Honors, where Mandrell was honored this past Spring:Email this Post