Plainly Spoken, ctd

David Bruce  Murray notices another instance of honesty being committed in announcements about personnel changes - this time, the Chucks asked their alto to resign so a family member could come back to the group - and adds an insightful reflection about how to walk the fine line between diplomatic honesty and indelicate bluntness. After recounting the way SSQ wished Ryan Seaton good luck “wherever” life takes him after SSQ, DMB writes:

“Wherever” makes us assume Seaton has no plans, because up until a few days before he probably thought he still had a job. “Sadness and regret” may mean he’ll be missed, or it may mean Ernie just hated going through the process of telling him he was no longer part of the group. On one hand, the fans don’t need to know every detail, but on the other hand, EH&SS has been after fans to relate to their collective personalities from day one.

Just so (the whole thing is worth a read; there’s even advice for struggling press-release writers).

This is part of a larger have-it-both ways mindset among artists that’s not unique to sg, but is more pervasive in the insular world of southern gospel, where until the arrival of the internet to Southern Gospelville, artists and insiders were accustomed to creating their own PR weather, telling fans, aren’t you grateful we’ve got these here custom umbrellas for sale at our booth for only $19.95? And then expecting everyone to line up, cash in hand (exact change, please).

Since I started averyfineline, I can expect at least once every year at NQC to get stopped by artists (or their over-involved mothers) who want to complain about this site’s criticism of their (or their child’s) performance. The attitude is always a variation on the same complaint: how dare you disrupt the useful fiction that everything done in the name of Christ is always already good! Oh, I understand why they’re upset, and I’ve always tried to take these complaints seriously and treat them respectfully. But it’s also a source of bemusement to me that artists seek an emotional, financial, even spiritual investment from the world, except when they don’t. Please … over here look at us, look at us! … Hey! What are you looking at!?

In the case of personnel management, it’s of course a group owner’s right to hire and fire personnel as he sees fit, and it’s his right to send out a press release lacquered over with euphemisms and evasions. But when you exercise those rights, please don’t complain when, in addition to those front-row fans who will reflexively approve of whatever decision comes from the top, there is a groan from the peanut gallery.

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  1. musicmantoo wrote:

    Very well written. It’s a truth that needs to be known…not everything (or sadly at times anything) that is labeled “gospel music” has to do with anything ‘gospel’ (and sadly..not anything ‘music’). This genre is changing and it’s a change for good. It’s still about ministry, but ministry in a manner of professionalism that’s been a long time coming. Glad to see it’s at least starting to arrive. Much of the process of drawing it in is due to educated folks laying out the truth. It’s about time…and let’s keep it moving. Ministry through music…what a great idea.

  2. Revpaul wrote:

    “Ministry through music in a manner of professionalism”. That’s exactly what comes to mind when I think of Mark Trammell adding Pat Barker. Mark is truly ministry-minded and often preaches the Word. The addition of Pat Barker, whose goal has always been ministry, will catapult the group to new heights, IMHO.

  3. Jake wrote:

    Again, let’s not forget that when you are dealing with an employer/employee relationship, sometimes you simply cannot tell the whole story to the public, even if the fans “think” they have the right to know. It is always unfortunate when there is a breakup under less than stellar circumstances, but like it or not, things happen, but not everything can be publicized.

  4. James Hales wrote:

    I noticed how the SN website left off the part about asking Kelly to resign.

  5. Norma wrote:

    This is what amazes me about certain “Southern Gospel” Forums. First of all, they want the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached, first and foremost. Well, the last time I read the entire New Testament, I picked up on an interesting bit of information. Jesus Christ is about telling the truth. Remember the “the truth shall set you free” part?

    Well, when you go to certain forums and legitimately raise some concerns within the Southern Gospel community (concerns that need to be raised), all “you know what” breaks loose! How dare anyone question these folks? Well, I can for one tell you why I question sometimes - their attitudes at the concerts and the arrogance that some members of the groups display. (I had not originally planned to go on “this rant”, but something needs to be said)

    Anyway, I see no problem with holding people accountable who, on a nightly basis, ask for our financial support for their 501-C3. If it were not for the “fans” buying their CD’s and coming to their concerts, they would not have this privilege. There……I said it! I’m not trying to be mean-spirited at all - I’ve just seen enough to know.

  6. Alan wrote:

    There’s a conundrum in all of this, and likely at times, a real dilemma. What if the change in personnel has come from what is merely a personality clash; one member who just can’t get along with others in the group, or the lead person? How much needs to be said about that? And, if there really is a much more serious underlying issue that necessitated a removal, there’s a fine line between saying just enough, and stating too much. These are only two scenarios among a myriad of possibilities. I realize that the average sgm fan feels that certain members of certain groups are their close friends, and this genre of music is relatively unique in that. But two things need to be maintained, imho. First, if it’s simply that a member isn’t meshing in a group, or worse, is clashing with others, a change for them might be all that they need. We are all different personalities, after all, and we all click with some but not others. A mean-spirited exit statement can follow that departing individual for a very long time, when it was unnecessary. And, if Christians are to pray for, and seek, the ultimate rehabilitation and restoration of a fallen fellow believer, telling all is contrary to the spirit of restoration. So, it is a fine line here; and while vague statements will fuel the gossip machine, that - in itself - isn’t Christlike. But, at the end of the day, we’ll all still probably disagree on what’s just enough or what’s too much in these kinds of situations.

  7. Auke wrote:

    I agree with Alan and Musicmantoo…and Jake too.

    As someone like me who is professionally empowered to make decissions about the composition of the ideal team…i can relate to how to manage when you ‘let someone go’. (i’m not saying that Ryan was let go…or sacked…i don’t know that). In order to not destroy the one who just got the ‘pink slip’…the reasons are usually not mentioned in an eleborate fashion. If they didn’t do a good job, or if it was their personality that made me decide to say ‘our ways part here’…i don’t write a memo…saying so and so…is impossible to work with and he/she was lousy too at the work assigned. You just don’t do that…why not? Well some people just don’t fit well in one team, but can thrive in another. You don’t mention all the in and outs about the former member of the team…so he/she is still able to find another team workplace.
    As head of my workplace, and as a person..i make decisions based on output/input of the concerned….but as a person i’m also aware of the fact that my decision can be personal…and thus my opinion. Now last time i checked i’m not God…so the chance that i’m wrong, and made the wrong decision is slim…but still i can be wrong.
    Ernie might have let Ryan go…but it was not only business wise right not to go in to detail about the circumstances, but also on a personal level the right way to adress the whole thing.


  8. quartet-man wrote:

    I would think this is a situation where you aren’t going to please everyone. Then again, most situations are like that.

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