Sideshow Sarah Reax

So the news of Sarah Palin’s appearance at NQC has been pinging around the interblogs and the reaction has been decidedly … meh. Comments skeptical of - or outright appalled by - Palin’s appearance easily ran 2 to 1 ahead of the supporters here. And the trend isn’t much different over at the NQC Facebook feed. This guy rounds up a representative sample:

  • We have been attending the convention for many, many years, but this will probably be the last! Now that you’ve moved the Singing News Fan Awards away from the convention and added a politcal speaker, the point of Southern Gospel Music seems to have lost its priority with you.
  • I don’t attend NQC for the politics. Someone is welcome to my space.
  • When will we stop wrapping the American flag around the cross of Christ. He didn’t die for republicans or democrats. He died for us all. I wish that we Christians would spend all the energy that we are spending on cutting down the “other” side and use the energy to lead others to Christ.
  • Yes remember how a lot of churches were pushing George W. We all know what a joke he turned out to be. I can’t believe they would think people has forgotten about that already.God is not into politics. NQC should be about Worshiping our Lord and Saviour, not spreading hate and discontent. Count my family out as well.
  • I was planning on leaving work early on Thursday, but won’t be in too big of a rush to get there now.
  • I am a conservative, but if I want to hear a politician, I’ll turn on CSPAN. Besides, it’s the National Quartet Convention, not the National QUITTER Convention.
  • Instead of paying this quitter to “speak,” why can’t they spend the money on better sound. Oh well, more time for ice cream and record table perusing. You betcha! *wink*

Holycoast reads the ambivalent response as evidence of a “grumpy Democrat” contingent within the sg crowd, and no doubt that’s some of what’s going on here. But it sure does seem to me like a lot of the grumbling and discontent is coming from the mainstream conservative Christian fan base too. This comment from the earlier thread on this site captures the mood of the general response:

Ya know, I have given this serious thought all day, and I will not get in to a debate or slugfest over politics, but I do not count on receiving all my spiritual inspiration at NQC - I get my spiritual inspiration in my own church. In fact, Easter Week found me in my own church 7 times - in 7 days. That is where I am cleansed, forgiven, and ministered to, and I do not go to NQC to have that done, nor do I go there for politics. I am not registered as a democrat nor a republican. I have the option and freedom of choice to cancel the hotel res (within walking distance of Freedom Hall) and I am sure I can sell all our tickets since they are on the floor for every night. I just think this is very poor judgement on the part of our NQC “Fathers”. If I want politics I can turn on CNN or FOX and it is there 24 hours a day. I figure I have contributed roughly $10,000 into the Louisville Economy and sent quite a bit along the way with the SGM groups. I bet Brumley Sing would be happy to see me.

For its part, NQC’s response to this kind of response seems to be to insist that there’s nothing to see here since Palin’s appearance isn’t “political.” Royght. One reader passed along an NQC response to his complaint about the Palin announcement:

Please understand that her speech will not be political in nature nor combative in tone.  It will be the type of speech she delivers at the Women of Joy Christian Conferences where she has been featured this year focusing on the importance of her Christian faith and her family in her daily life.

The reply ends with a plea for “tolerance for those [program offerings] that do not appeal to you, realizing that there are many people who do enjoy them.” Boy howdy if that ain’t a rich. Rather like booking ACDC for the mainstage and then asking people to please remain quiet for the duration of the show so heavy metal fans can enjoy the music.

Others are arguing the opposite of the “it’s not political” response: yeah it’s political but it’s been done before, at which point they cite the singing senators. Color me skeptical. As at least one other commenter has noted, the singing senators were … you know, singing and stuff (not very well, mind you, but that doesn’t distinguish them from half of the other performers on the mainstage). No matter how hard folks try - and god knows sg types try pretty hard - to fix and limit what the music can mean, it always exceeds the power of any single interpretation or assigned value, political or otherwise. That’s why it’s possible to cringe when a singer talks politics and cry when he starts singing.

Which is why, as long music is the organizing unit of the event, experience, or performance, people are generally willing to put up with quite a lot from the musician, whether it’s the Inspirations or Brian Free doing their anti-abortion stuff or Jonathan Wilburn’s Eve-not-Steve zingers or Tony Greene’s Obamabaiting. This Palin thing has generated such a strong response not because it’s the first time politics has ever entered the world of NQC or southern gospel. Indeed, as much of a joke as this thing obviously is in many ways, Palin’s politics drift in the same general ideological direction of the NQC demographic. But the Palin appearance lacks the universalizing effect of music to redeem or at least neutralize the politically divisive effect she has everywhere she goes.

So what’s the point? Ticket sales? Perhaps for the showcase itself but this isn’t going to do anything abidingly good for gospel music. As one commenter put it:

I doubt Palin’s appearance at NQC will sell many tickets to non-sg fans. IF her speech is covered by the press, do you think they will also cover the music? I doubt it. Do you expect there to be much music during her show (and let’s face it, that’s what it’ll be)? I don’t.

Me neither, but her appearance will probably give the political diehards and ideological deadenders little starbursts of relevance for a few moments. The rest of us can just linger over a late lunch/early happy hour on Bardstown Road a little longer.

Email this Post


  1. Aaron Swain wrote:

    The comment that resonated most with me? “Instead of paying this quitter to “speak,” why can’t they spend the money on better sound…”

    Getting famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) keynote speakers is all well and good, but more than a little housekeeping is needed as far as the technical aspect of things go, particularly in live audio. I remember that throughout the week last year, my nightly comments often stated at least once that a group’s otherwise stellar set was marred by faulty sound.

    One of the most important aspects of any musical event is that of the sound, so that really should be getting more attention.

  2. musicmantoo wrote:

    The decision to have a conservative speaker at this event is, I believe, a good one. It’s not about republican or dem…it’s about what is Godly, and what is not. I applaud the NQC board for having someone come in and share a positive message based on what we as Christians know to be truth. It’s time that Christians take a stand…and stop hiding in the closet.

    One can argue that this makes the NQC a partisan event, and I can see that point of argument. It would be wise for the NQC to be sure that the presentation is done in an affirmation of values and not in a manner to point out the outrageous atrocities that the Obama administration is bringing upon this nation…not that I have a strong opinion. If Ms. Palin brings a message of values and hope for our nation, then it’ll be a great moment. We need to hear that.

    Again…my support to the NQC for attempting to showcase values and call the Christians to task. It may be the most ministry minded event that happens all week. The choice can be debated…but I have to say if I can get Gov. Huck to the Branson Gospel Music Convention, we’ll have him play bass AND bring a message of values.

  3. copperhill wrote:

    I think it is shocking to bring politics–and the highly partisan Tea Party variety of which Sarah Palin is the darling–into what should be an apolitical event. I suspect that most– not all– of my favorite sg performers are redder than red but please have some respect for those of us who are ecstatic that Health Reform passed and that in just three years poor people will have access to health care–many for the first time in their lives. NQC “owners” may be shocked to know that there are sg fans who are offended by what Sarah Palin stands for–not the “faith” part but the rest of the package. Why take the chance of alienating so many people with someone so polarizing?

  4. Rick wrote:

    Is a showcase. You do not have to go. I don’t get involved in politics,therefore I won’t go. What does concern me is the glorifying of Bill Gaither and EHSS. Why are they allowed more stage time? I’ll also put in my 2 cents on moving the awards. I think it is a great move. It means more singing. The award recipients are allowed to go on forever,which made for a very long night.

  5. Lewis Wells wrote:

    #2 - Take a stand for what? Make others “succumb” to the Christian faith through force, adopting our behaviors even if not our true faith?

    I’d be careful in my support or promotion of Huckabee, too. He has ties to Bill Gothard, cult leader and restaurant-quality kook.

    When others aren’t forcing us to behave as they do, our stand amounts to us forcing them, or us wanting to force them, to behave as we do.

  6. Knows Nothing wrote:

    Avery (Doug) way are you so afraid of Gov. Palin??

  7. Alan Berry wrote:

    Way too much overreaction here. Southern gospel music has been and still is is old fashioned conservative values. Everybody knows that. Look at all of the preachers that have been guest at the convention. Jerry Falwell fit right in as will Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is a match. It is a publicity stunt to get media attention. Southern gospel is also about ego - so the media attention is important for the leaders in southern gospel.

  8. Melvin Klaudt wrote:

    In Christ’s time, there were two individuals that loved God’s people. Barabbas and Jesus. Barabbas wanted to free God’s people from Rome, and Jesus wanted to free God’s people from their sins. When the people were asked who they wanted freed form prison, They said, “Give us Barabbas”. In my opinion, our present spiritual state is eat up with the Barabbas spirit.

    2nd Chronicles 7:14 say’s, “If my people who are called by my name,”. It does not say,”If my nation that is called by my name”.

    This nation does not need to turn back to God, God’s people need to turn back to God. Then God will once again bless this nation. We are not a Christian Nation, but a nation that used to be inhabited by Christians.

    Who said, “We have met the enemy, and it is Us”.

  9. cynical one wrote:

    Melvin, that was Pogo (newpaper comic character).

  10. Tim wrote:

    When has someone so notable been at NQC. People still talk about seeing Elvis at NQC in Memphis in the 60’s. When in Nashville, you would see The Oaks, Larry Gatlin and others from country music there. Sarah Palin at NQC will create a buzz plus garner some much needed media attention. I think it is a good move.

  11. Lewis Wells wrote:

    #10 - I’ve no doubt that it’ll generate a lot of buzz and media attention. By the same token, that media attention, associating Sarah Palin with NQC, will literally slam the door on the interest in NQC of a large segment of the population who watches and reads that media coverage. NQC doesn’t need a Tea Party. It needs to make sure what’s happening on the main stage can compete in the musical marketplace.

    It also opens up the possibility of NQC becoming more about the side-show, gimmicky nature of it’s showcases than about the music happening on the main stage. I see it as a slippery slope, potentially even the beginning of the end of NQC as we know it, and sadly it has nothing to do with the music.

    Palin also has links to Gothardism. That’s some scary stuff.

  12. Chad Stenzel wrote:

    Doug would, undoubtedly, be happier if it were Barney Frank invited to address the. Fact is, despite your claims of negative reaction on the interwebs, most Sogo fans identify with Governor Palin. Prediction: Her reception will be electric. Now if we can just put her in a mixed group with Michelle Bachmann, Glenn Beck, and Mike Huckabee…

  13. BUICK wrote:

    She has a high-pitched annoying voice and she she didn’t stay in her last job very long. What’s the difference between Sarah Palin and an SG tenor singer? Lipstick.

  14. B Gray wrote:

    Enough is enough. What can we the common people do to start the push to get Clarke Beasley removed from the head of the NQC? I’M SERIOUS!! Any ideas?

  15. mrs.noah wrote:

    #13 - you gave me my laugh for the day - I want to make it clear I have nothing against Mrs Palin - I would not like it if they dug up Abe Lincoln and put him there, or put Jimmie Carter there, or Bill O’Reilly, or President Obama - I just don’t want my sgm watered down with politics.

  16. Rick in SoGeorgia wrote:

    Re:#12: A quartet comprised of Palin, Bachmann, Beck & Huckabee would be the mixed group of my worst nightmares.
    Signing in as Rick in SoGeorgia since someone else is now posting as Rick.

  17. Josh wrote:

    I don’t get all the brouhaha about Palin…..

    Aren’t we all (including Palin) Christians? Who cares if we have political differences. I’m 99.99% sure she is not going to stand at the podium saying “Vote for me”. She probably won’t even bring politics into it (unless its a side joke). As it says in the official NQC press release: “she is doing many conferences throughout the nation where she focuses on what her Christian faith and her family means to her. Those are the type of topics she will address at the NQC.”

    If we Christians are divided about a speaker at NQC, what sort of example is being set for any unsaved who may attend NQC that day? Like the words to KPNR’s hit song go:

    Why can’t all God’s children get along
    We can’t all be right, we can’t all be wrong
    We’re just different singers in the same old song
    Why can’t all God’s children get along?

  18. Wade wrote:

    BGRay #14 Buy Him and a few other members out!! Giddy Up!!

    As the unofficial caller of BS… I do not understand the BiG Deal. A gathering of Christian TYPES with a Conservative HAWT LOOKING Speaker in a SHOWCASE in the AFTERNOON…NOT on the Main Stage during the EVENING SHOW!!

    I would be offended by a McKamey, Inspo or Dips Showcase IF I HAD to GO!! But JUST DO NOT GO if you do not agree with the politics. But if I had enjoyed the NQC experience SP would not HINDER ME!!!

    I doubt very seriously she is GETTING $100K. Those are usually just inflated asking prices that START the negotiations. But ya might see L5, Hoppers etc singing at rallies for her CHEAPLY in the future.

    Bill Clinton did not event Quid Pro Quo!!

  19. art wrote:

    In my daily prayer and mediation, I refer to Charles Swindoll’s “Wisdom for the Way.” Today’s reading seemed appropriate for this topic and other discussions on this site:

    “A ‘peacemaker’ is the servant who…first, is at peace with himself — internally, at ease…not agitated, ill-tempered, in turmoil…and therefore not abrasive. Second, he/she works hard to settle quarrels, not start them…is accepting, tolerant, finds no pleasure in being negative…

    “Ever been around Christians who are NOT peacemakers? Of course. Was it pleasant? Did you sense a servant’s heart? Were you built up and encouraged…was the body of Christ strengthened and supported? You know the answers…”

  20. cynical one wrote:

    #17 - Josh — I disagree that her appearance at ANYthing can be non-political, simply because she is a political figure. She’s held political offices, ran for the #2 political office in the country, and has hinted (while others speculate) that she plans to run for political office in the not-too-distant future. Even if she were not speaking, her very appearance in a public place becomes political. Even if it’s only going to the grocery store (which she probably doesn’t, unless she has a political motive in the trip).

    That’s the nature of politics.

  21. CH wrote:

    So basically, if you’re a democrat, you’re upset with the NQC. Now if we brought in a politician who is ok with the wholesale slaughter of unborn babies and is willing to let anyone get married to anyone/thing (democrat), you’d be fine paying for the ticket to see that sideshow. Gimme a break. How can you say I love Jesus and hate Conservatives anyway? I vote social issues first, and abortion and marraige are at the top of my list. Not to mention I like presidents who nominate SC justices that uphold the Bible in our law, not want to oust it.

  22. Glenn wrote:

    #21 CH. Evidently you haven’t read any of the other posts. Even many of those nasty old Republicans or, God forbid, independents have objected. At least it will be like most every gospel concert I have ever attended when they feel the need to speak rather than sing, “Preaching to the Choir.”

  23. Lewis Wells wrote:

    #21 - CH, I’m a conservative and a registered Republican (even though the two don’t necessarily mean the same thing anymore), and I think the Palin at NQC thing is a huge mistake on the part of the NQC board and would have no compulsion to take part. Why? Look at your post. Not a single mention of the MUSIC that NQC represents, but a summary of the culture war that you, personally, and many others (on both sides) believe rages in America.

    It will only detract from Southern Gospel music. Sarah Palin will be the biggest “artist” to appear there.

    Everything about her appearance and speech WILL have political overtones. Anyone who says otherwise, including representatives of NQC, isn’t being honest - even with themselves.

  24. Sensible wrote:

    This is not the only political figure to appear (speak) at a huge SG Event. Mike Huckabee is going to be speaking at the Singing in the Sun event in Myrtle Beach, SC put on by Abraham Productions.

    However, I would think that the Singing in the Sun event would draw a majority of conservatives. What I am saying is that this move would be more accepted by this audience. But who knows?

  25. Extra Ink wrote:

    Sarah Palin came in third today in the straw poll of “Who Would You Vote For in 2012? at the big GOP get-together. She was behind Ron Paul & Mitt Romney with 18% of the vote….not a good sign for her.

  26. JJ wrote:

    Imagine this scenario:

    In an alternate universe, McCain/Palin ticket wins over Obama/Biden.

    Then at the next GMWA event (Gospel Music Workshop of America), losing candidate Obama gives keynote speech.

  27. cindytreadway wrote:


Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked * Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.