NQC 10: Sideshow Sarah Palin post-mortem

Lots of twitter activity yesterday (#NQC) leading up to the Sarah Palin event … and mostly silence after the fact. The NQC finally issued a press release this afternoon that celebrated her inspirational remarks, including the influence that Gaither music had on her.

Sue Smith, the songwriter, found her reflections on faith to seem sincere, but did note that the former half-term governor of Alaska was conspicuously at sea about southern gospel and Christian music:

She really doesn’t know anything about southern gospel music. That became apparent when she more or less equated it with country music (and that got some nervous laughter from the so-go crowd) and then called the “Neelons” the “Nehlons.”

Ouch. But real no surprise, of course. Still I never get why politicians do this sort of thing … try to fake an intimate awareness of subcultures with which they may have vague affinities but no real experience of any meaningful sort. In this case, Palin would have been just as widely and roundly celebrated if she’d walked in and said, “I’m from Alaska and Idaho and southern gospel’s not that big up in those parts, but I’m glad to be here today with people who I know share my belief in God and country” blah blah blah. And yet she gaffes her way into a world about which she’s clueless, mucking things up where candor and humility would do just as well.  I don’t get it.

Update: Sue Smith, whose blog I quoted above, is miffed because she feels I left readers with an inaccurate sense of her comments by insufficiently contextualizing her thoughts on Sarah Palin’s NQC speech. Interesting that though she’s complaining about being quoted out of context in excerpted remarks, she neglects to tell her readers whose blog she’s referring to, nor does she provide them a link to the full version of what I wrote. But no matter. For my part, when I quote someone, I always try to provide links to the full versions of what people say whenever possible, and I did so in this case. Obviously it’s a matter of interpretation if the kind of gaffes Smith describes Palin making in front of a southern gospel audience means she just made a faux pas or if her remarks about the music demonstrate someone “at sea” (my words) with sg. It clearly seems to be the latter, but Smith just as clearly thinks it was not a “big deal.” That seems overly generous to me (does anyone really think Sarah Palin knows anything more about sg than what her handlers briefed her on before her speech and the odd cd  she may have popped in for the ride over from the hotel?), but whatever. Offense was taken where none was intended, so in the interest of bloggery comity,  here’s Smith’s original post (again) and her follow up, fwiw. And Sue, I hope you get well soon.

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  1. Barbie S. wrote:

    Avery said:

    In this case, Palin would have been just as widely and roundly celebrated if she’d walked in and said, “I’m from Alaska and Idaho and southern gospel’s not that big up in those parts, but I’m glad to be here today with people who I know share my belief in God and country”

    I agree- this kind of candid talk would have been much better.

  2. The Gospel Stache wrote:

    Well many voters would say she did the same thing in the election, that is talking of that which she knew not. But that’s politics for sure. As far as the bridge between religion & politics, I wonder if many conservative politicians have displayed the words of Paul in 1 Cor 9:19-23 in describing how we should “become all things to all men”. I don’t know if that’s making a bridge between the two, but I don’t doubt many would take it out of exegetical context and apply it to their personal politicking. But i think overall, she was well received and that’s good i suppose.

  3. DixieDawg wrote:

    Doug, I agree. She would have been better off to acknowledge her lack of acquaintance with the music than to make herself look as though “she didn’t do her homework”. However, this is not surprising, Palin didn’t do her homework on foreign policy or much of anything else when she was running in the 2008. This is what I have been talking about. I’m a Conservative Bapticostal, and I’m still saying this. My husband is a Southern Baptist minister and I’m still saying this.

    Christians run around all the time trying to look “pious”, “religious”, “knowledgeable” and “with it”, and they end up losing their credibility. In my opinion, the NQC has lost their credibility for inviting ANY political candidate to be on the stage. Obviously, Palin didn’t have a clue about SG music. And obviously, the NQC is no longer JUST ABOUT music. The NQC has now made a political statement, and it’s a shame that this has been mixed in with a Southern Gospel musical showcase.

    Can music just ever be music? Can the church just ever be the church?

  4. Quartet Fan wrote:

    I like Sarah Palin well enough, but you nailed it with this one.

  5. Nobody wrote:

    I’m not there, but randomly Kelly Nelon’s facebook status came across my page yesterday day afternoon. It read something like: Sarah Palin just mentioned the Nelons. Us. I could cry!

    Now I understand.

  6. cynical one wrote:

    I’m sure this was neither the first nor the last time Kelly has heard their name mispronounced. Even a lot of people who’ve been around s/g do their fair share of botching people’s names.

    If that was the worst bit of homework she’d not done, it wouldn’t have been so crazy.

  7. quartet-man wrote:

    While we are at it, many SG artists spell Glen Payne’s name Glenn, and that is only one. As far as pronunciation, there are some even on Gaither productions As picky and controlling as Gaither is in releasing quality products, I never understood why not only did he get some dates wrong (the Vocal Band’s starting date for one), but allowed George Younce’s name to be pronounced incorrectly by the announcer at the beginning on several of the recordings. (Pronounced rhyming with ounce.)

  8. Charlie Sexton wrote:

    Give Sarah a break about the mis-pronounciation of The Nelons, ya’ll. There’s no one in the SG industry that I love much more than Dr Jerry Goff, but he’s called them The Knee-Laahns for years. She’s got a quasi-Canadian brogue, and the majority of us have somewhat of a local accent of our own.

  9. Southern Sounds wrote:

    I would have thought there would be more banter about Sarah given some of the other showcase fan upsets.

  10. Lindsey wrote:

    In my opinion, the issue is less Sarah Palin and more NQC Board of Directors. Politically I am a right wing conservative and I have no problem with Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, or any other morally standing politician. (What about Zell Miller, Democrat-GA?) However, I feel the NQC Board need to get back to basics, connect with younger audiences, and promote upcoming talent and quality within the industry, rather than smoozing with wannabe politicians! Come on people

  11. Marilyn wrote:

    I was disappointed at the negative comments that were made concerning Sarah Palin. I would expect something like this from the media and the political area but from those who are interested in the NQC? Where are our Christian ethics and tolerance of other people? No one is perfect so why do we “pick” at others who are trying to do the right thing.

  12. Joshua Noah wrote:

    I’m just finding out about the whole Sarah Palin thing at NQQ. Yeah, she was certainly not connecting over the music.

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