On artistic dominance

A reader weighs in on DBM’s attempt to measure artists of the decades:

I think it is hard to give anyone an entire decade. The Oaks seemed to dominate from around 1967-74. The Kingsmen seemed to dominate from around Chattanooga Live (late 70s) throughout the mid 80s and were still doing some good live stuff into the 90s. The 80s had Gold City and the Cathedrals putting out strong stuff.

It would be great if we had hard data like album sales along with #1 hits to help us make this determination.

An obvious but good point. It’s been a constant source of amazement to me how the fortune of a group or an artist can rise and fall so quickly. It may not be the most recent example but within the past decade, we’ve seen the Perrys more or less come to occupy the top spot among mixed groups once held by the Hoppers. And it seemed to happen within the space of a year two in 2003-05.

Of course to some extent there’s not a lot of mystery here: tastes are by their very nature fluid and fluctuant forces. But even if we know that tastes will change and artists will fall in and out of favor, it’s no less an exciting thing to experience when the ascendant group is riding high and the balance of audience delight is shifting from one focal point to another. In fact, it may well be the chance to¬† experience just such a moment that makes all the derivative, dull, and uninspired stuff tolerable.

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  1. KC wrote:

    When I read Michael McIlwain’s post, it was a nice reminder of my favorite memory/time of southern gospel music. The Kingsmen/Gold City/Cathedrals era, when they were at their best, was by far my favorite time to be a southern gospel fan. I keep hoping for the energy from that time to resurface, but am usually disappointed with groups of today. :-/ Jim Hamill, Ernie Phillips, Squire Parsons, Anthony Burger, George Younce, Glen Payne, Ivan Parker (back then), etc., were awesome to witness on stage. I got a bit of that feeling back last year at NQC when Tim Riley rejoined Gold City. Good times!

  2. NG wrote:

    It will be interesting to see if a male quartet (or even male trio) wins every decade. Is that because of who reads DBM’s blog and this blog (and votes) or are mixed groups not considered as highly as the male groups?

    Certainly a group like the Happy Goodmans sold a lot of records in the 1970s.

  3. DRL wrote:

    Ya, what #1, KC, said.
    I’m not sure what the reasons are, but I too am often disappointed with the groups of today. Could be tracks, vocal stacks, in ear monitors, or just a general aging of the target audience, but it seems there are few groups that bring the energy, spontaneity and wreckless abandon to the stage like the Kingsmen, Gold City and Cathedrals did back in the day.
    The obvious reasons why groups can rise and fall so quickly is song selection and personnel. One or 2 personnel changes can take a group (like the Kingsmen of the 80’s) down pretty fast. With the Hoppers … for the Love of the Lord, if I hear ‘Shoutin’ time’ one more time I’m going to shoot somebody!

  4. Michael McIlwain wrote:

    DRL, I do think that personnel changes can hinder a group in maintaining popularity. The Statesmen changed lead singers, but the rest of the line-up stayed pretty consistent once Rosie Rozell came on board. With Chief, Doy, and Hovie you had some consistency.

    The Florida Boys changed tenors often after Tommy Atwood left, but Buddy, Les, Glen, and Darrell were there forever.

    The Blackwood Brothers stayed consistent and only changed tenors once between 1951 and 1979. They had some different people singing bass but many familiar faces were still there. The Oaks had Willie Wynn for about 15 years, Smitty Gatlin for about 9, and have had the same line-up for over thirty-five years except for Bill Golden’s departure, but he came back.

  5. quartet-man wrote:

    #3 “It’s Shoutin’ Time in Heaven………….” ;)

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