NQC 10: Final Thoughts

So what are the takeaways from my experience this year at NQC? I don’t have any grand narrative or essayistic reflection to give you. Just some thoughts that have surfaced after a day or so of sleep, reflection, and return to the ordinary world of everyday life.

The absence of the Fan Awards left NQC without a center or organizing experience in some ways. This isn’t because the Fan Awards were an irreplaceable event (something else, properly conceived and executed, could probably do the trick). It’s just that in retrospect, the Fan Awards, coming on Thursday, served as something to look forward and then to refer back to as the week progressed.

Until they weren’t there anymore, I never realized how much the outcomes of the awards – particularly song, album, and group of the year – helped infused those final two and a half days with a sense of possibility surrounding the winners’ subsequent mainstage performances. With fans primed for a confirmation of the big win from their favorite groups and the artists themselves energized by their awards, there was a certain fusing of desire and ambition and great feeling that may not have always paid off but that helped give some kind of affective shape to the weekend all the same. Something to look forward to. 

This year, there just seemed to be one artist after another. And then some video clips. And some lame stand up. And some profiteering preachers. And then some more performances. Gaither sort of gave the week a high point insofar as people flock to see him and there’s buzz – I mean, really, literally: there were catcalls and screaming fans … I actually wouldn’t have been surprised to see panties thrown on the stage when GVB came on. So maybe that argues for a larger Gaither Homecoming style event. I dunno. Everything seems so Gaitherized these days, it may not be that big of a deal. But the afternoon singalong certainly seemed to be a big enough hit that maybe that needs to be moved to the evening mainstage.

I dunno. In general, my sense is the affliction ailing NQC is less a programming problem and more a symptom of a long goodbye going on to the relevance of this sort of event. No, NQC’s not going to go away any time soon. But it certainly has ceased to be the force it once was, for reasons tied to other forces that are not going to magically undo themselves … ever. I’ll talk more about some of these dynamics in the coming weeks, after I’ve rested and cleared my head. But for now, the salient point is to listen and look for those moments that catch you off guard and hold you in their force field, if only for a fleeting note or two, a transient phrase, the briefest bar. Theoretically, those moments could shrink and shrink infinitely off into the distance without ever actually ceasing to exist altogether, but I hope I don’t have to find out where my threshold is. I still want to go back, but I’m not sure for how long.

Which leads me to my other main observation: I think my Friday night epiphany – that the unstoppable force of my affection for the music had run headlong into the immovable wall of sonic contrivance that dominates so much of the music today – left the impression that I was not very implicitly longing for some golden age of musical accomplishment and authenticity.

Let me say for the record then: I don’t really believe such an age ever existed. Here’s why. When the music today is really good, it’s as good or better than the best music I’ve heard from any previous era. The corollary to this observation is that today’s worst music is not worse than that of earlier moments.

What is different about today’s music is the plastic, preprogrammed, conspicuously artificial and coldblooded nature of the technically enhanced sound so popular with all but a few artists.

Here’s what I mean: listening to the Hinsons set at the 100th Anniversary showcase, I heard plenty of bad singing: pitchy, unblended, occasionally just downright unmusical. But it was entirely and unequivocally live … alive, immediate and urgent, and so, deeply felt. These songs, as I’ve noted already, were so obviously written as much for a live band as for singers themselves, so that artists, performers and listeners alike were able to inhabit the music-making experience as the tunes unfolded on stage (this also what I was trying to describe about Jason Crabb’s set on Thursday). Sure, it wasn’t entirely spontaneous. They may not have rehearsed much, by all available evidence, but everybody knew the basic arrangement. Yet the liveness of the music – not least of all a band of first-rate players rather than professional showboats – cloaked the imperfections of the music in a felt and endearing humanity.

My point is not that having a live band is a license to suck, as you know all too well if you’ve been following some of the more spirited NQC threads elsewhere on this site (though obviously “live band” is a tricky term, since even most of the groups with multiple live instruments were still using tracks). But when you hear mediocre, amateur or otherwise subpar singing accompanied by an orchestral track of stratospheric proportions and the kind of facile perfection only digital technology can provide, it leeches that intrinsically human dimension out of the music, calling attention to the flaws not as honest failures of musical ability but as the residue of a small-time fixation with the appearance of greatness, with a sheen of accomplishment, with the unearned applause that, say, a flat-VI, flat-VII, tonic tag, annotated with brass fanfare and rolling tympanis will generate almost every time among gospel audiences.

And so, you see these artists down there bowing in motions of gratitude or pointing humbly heavenward as the crowd roars … and you realize that genuine though the vast majority of them doubtless are in their desire to give credit to the Lord, the credit’s often borrowed, leveraged to the hilt against a symphonic soundtrack and the marvel of pushbutton bands that leech out the essential human element, leaving little more than karaoke. I can hear that at Larry Parrots down the street, but have more fun, because I could get a drink there too.

I ran across a line a novel I was reading on the plane back from Louisville Sunday that I’ve been thinking about a lot apropos this topic. The passage discusses a character’s thoughts on a musician he’s listening to at a club, and it went like this: the singer “was performing sincerity, and when the performance threatened to give the lie, he performed his anguish over the difficulty of sincerity.”

Great stuff. Sincerity must be performed in southern gospel, of course, as in any other performance art organized around the performer’s authenticity, whether anyone is willing or able to admit so or not. But in sg, when the performance starts to give the lie – when the tracks call attention to themselves and the dearth of any real possibility for artistic spontaneity (which is, I think, what most people mean when they talk about artistic authenticity) – when this happens, there’s no way the gospel performer can recur to the crisis of sincerity as a source of energy, no way to plow the anxiety of performance back into the song, because no one can admit there’s any artifice afoot in the first place.

In the southern gospel imagination, there must be no daylight between seeming and being. And yet perversely enough, the commitment to “authentic” singers has led us to this place where so much of the music couldn’t be more patently, obviously, absurdly artificial. So the tenor screams a little louder and the bass kicks the subwoofer in and the other two suspend their resolutions even more lengthily … and all the while the sound guy keeps pushing the track slider up a bit higher, as if to drown out any doubts that may linger on either side of the footlights about the dubious wisdom of relying on canned music to mobilize the mysterious and powerful movings of good gospel music.

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Comments

  1. DixieDawg wrote:

    First of all, great article! For the last few years, I have found myself increasingly bored with a lot of the SG groups. Growing up in a mid to larger size Pentecostal church where my mother played the piano and I sang alto in the choir, we were accustomed to live Gospel music and the spontaneous repeating of choruses or verses, to include a testimony or two.

    We had some of the big names and big groups to come through our church doors - Hinsons, Rambos, Rex Nelon Singers, Dino & Cheryl Kartsonakis, Vestal Goodman, Hemphills, J. D. Sumner & the Stamps, Janet Paschal…..even the Newsboys and David & the Giants (for the younger folks).

    Being the former owner of a group tour business, I planned, directed and escorted tour after tour to the Gaither Homecomings, listening to good ‘ole fashioned live Gospel music. One time, we made the pilgrimage to Charlie Waller’s event in Greenville. When I was a regular travel agent, I escorted tours to the Grand ‘Ole Opry as well.

    Anyway, my point…….I’ve heard most of the SG groups out there, with the exception of a few new ones. Consequently, I have noticed over and over that most groups are literally covered up in their soundtracks. The last concert I attended featured such loud soundtracks, that you really didn’t hear the group, you heard noise from a sound system that didn’t acoustically work in the building.

    Even groups with great voices have begun to cover their singing with the famous “canned music”, as my grandmother called it. I am to the point that I almost don’t care to go to a concert anymore if it’s not live music. The one group who consistently keeps it “live” and keeps it “honest” is The Dixie Echoes. I try to go and hear them every January when they come to our town. They are truly a breath of fresh air. Great music, great harmonies and genuinely nice people.

    About the others…….mix in the canned music with the overwhelming egos, the “limited supply” product pitches and the fact that the performing group’s music sounds just like the other group who performed a few minutes ago…….and you have a recipe for copy-cat noisy boredom. The huge crescendo at the end, the comedy sketches and the famous “this is not glamorous” testimonies, and you think……yep, the dumbing down of America is working.

    Seriously, I just want to hear the pure sounds of music and voices. That’s one reason that I have developed a growing fondness for Bluegrass music….there is such purity in the sound, such story and such moderation. It’s not ostentatious or gaudy, just pure Americana music. If a lot of the SG artists knew how people felt, they would probably take their pianist and a good bass player, and hit the road, leaving their booming, unbalanced CD player at the house.

  2. Marsandonel wrote:

    It is more than “magic moments” that I miss with southern gospel. I miss unique moments such as when Faye Speer said “I was thinking about you today even though our last meeting had been years earlier”. It is when Doug Oldham said I have plenty of room on the bus if you would like to come along. It’s when Reba walks across an auditorium and hugs you. When Karen Peck remembers the last time she saw you.

    Even more I miss when anointed songs were sung by anointed singers who stood in the gap between the cross and heaven and gave us a sampling of what will be.

    I miss having my spirit being massaged by lyrics and harmonic voices so I would respond, “yes Lord have Your way”.

    Sometimes it still happens but not often. But I am still listening for and longing for a fresh outpouring, for the glory of His presence manifested in the genre of southern gospel.

    It isn’t about the singers, or the musicians, or the stacked vocals and sometimes over reaching arrangements. It is about Jesus. He is always at the center of what is the best of southern gospel music.

  3. art wrote:

    This post by Avery seems to continue the discussion on the previous thread regarding the need to evolve vs. preservation of the tradition. I’ve had a few more random thoughts and would enjoy a discussion on this topic.

    No doubt SG appeals to older people. I’m in my 50s, and I first realized my fondness for SG about 10 years ago. My (young adult) kids don’t listen to my generation’s secular music. Why should I expect them listen to my generation’s Christian music?

    If the SG industry peters out after the current generation of geezers (including me) passes away, that’s just the way the world turns. Other Christian styles will take its place. It’s unrealistic to expect that this genre will continue in perpetuity simply because I like it.

    A Christian bookstore that I used to frequent would offer helpful hints that the style or voice of a certain Christian singer was similar to certain very popular secular singers.

    Southern Gospel Music must first of all appeal to Christians – specifically Christians who think about their relationship with God at times other than Sunday morning. That alone significantly narrows the genre’s market. And I’m good with that.

    Another poster’s frequent reference to matching suits seems a little dated. Granted, the snazzy outfits are still out there, but they’re not prevalent. And I doubt that the matching suits thing impedes the popularity of SG. Other things that do:

    1. Focus on politics. I hate going to an SG performance and hearing about the group’s political leanings. I have a thoughtful, nuanced set of political values and I don’t want my spiritual experience interrupted by a cheap political one-liner that I probably disagree with. I’ve never been to NQC, but it sounds like this year’s event was rife with that kind of stuff. Is that how you attract new people to a music genre, to an event or to a faith in Jesus?

    2. Humor that isn’t funny. Wit is a gift. If you are on the SG stage and you don’t have wit, stick with the gift you have, which is, I hope, singing.

    3. Lack of showmanship. Avery refers to it in this post. Some SG groups have no clue about pacing their performances, when to talk and when to shut up and sing. Like them or not, Bill Gaither and Ernie Haase know something about showmanship.

    4. Bombastic preachin’. Yeah, it can be entertaining. But the lower-key, less buffoonish spoken presentation by, say, Gaither or Haase, spreads the message more effectively, I would think.

    5. Uninspiring song selection. I accept that about half of the songs on any given CD are filler material that strikes no chord with me at all. Is it so hard to find songs that convey the joy and the power of the Christian message?

    6. As Avery said, sincerity or the appearance thereof, is often lacking. I understand that it’s tough to summon up a genuine musical spark though a couple of hundred dates every year. But I can overlook a few flaws in a performance if it’s presented with genuine joy and enthusiasm — the kind you can’t get from recorded orchestras.

    I’ve gone on and on. And I used to be such a quiet guy…

  4. justafan wrote:

    What do we make of the fact that the Perrys are not filling their piano position left vacant by Bryan Elliott’s departure to Gold City? Maybe it’s not as relevant as I think…and I can’t pinpoint at the moment why it is relevant. However, I just have a feeling that it should be telling me/us something.

  5. DixieDawg wrote:

    Here is an example of pure Southern Gospel without the loud, booming tracks. This is the Dixie Echoes (just vocals, piano and bass - nothing else) This is quality Southern Gospel music. In my humble opinion, to be able to sing (and sing well) without a lot of instrumentation requires talent and a genuine gift for singing.

    In this video, the Dixie Echoes are singing “I’ll Have a New Life” (The name of the church on this video is quite interesting)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HjtJFbZn8s

    Here is another example of pure music and pure vocals, which is obviously Bluegrass in flavor. It’s Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless singing “Daniel Prayed”.

    I could listen to this music all day.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98jNS8MmEqw

    One test for me is this…..if I can leave a concert feeling revived, rejuvenated, inspired and encouraged, knowing that I have listened to music that speaks of faith in God, then I have been to a good concert.

    If I leave a concert and my head is pounding from the loud sound system or I feel as though I have been “assaulted” by the overwhelming tracks….. and make a beeline for the door, then the experience would fall under the category of “Negative”.

  6. Tom Gervat wrote:

    Oh but there was a golden age- it was the seventies during the heyday of Canaan & Heartwarming Records. It began slowly in the Blackwood/Statesmen era a decade earlier, and hit full throttle back when Marvin Norcross ran Canaan Records -peaking perhaps around 1976. For all of your problems with the Inspirations, they held true to who they were, as did the Primitive Quartet especially -even to this day (although they’re more country-gospel than SG). The descent began loosely in the early eighties with the advent of digital sound via the CD. The “down-home” crowd started getting uppity about their music and looked down their noses at those lesser, unpolished homegrown groups. Records went out and CD’s became “product”. They were big-time now and would show the world how competitive they could be. But the world looked, laughed, and yawned. Instead of just singing for the Lord and for regular folks, they were singing now to impress an imaginary audience. Soundtracks became the norm, instead of the exception, followed by marketing studies, vocal bling, and audio raz-ma-taz. The whole thing reminded me of when the orchestras moved into country music and it became overproduced, and lost it’s identity and spark. Many good people and groups were sucked in and did what they were told instead of what their hearts told them
    was right.. Every other song ending became a train wreck and eventually so did the industry. I pray that they wake up, break away, and rebuild the former things, and that the latter glory will exceed the former. It’s not too late.

  7. Joe Schmoe wrote:

    The as-of-yet unofficial word is that the Fan Awards will be back at NQC next year.
    #4, I’d guess that they aren’t filling the bench because they can’t afford it. No telling how high Tracy’s medical bill is.

  8. Matt G. wrote:

    #4 He didn’t stay long with The Perrys did he? Of all the groups to not replace a pianist, The Perrys are one of the few that it actually surprises me to hear.

  9. Tom Gervat wrote:

    As a postscript to the above, I should also add that songwriters should be listed on the liner notes, as they used to be long ago and far away. It’s only good manners to give them credit and not act as if the songs magically appeared, as is often the case these days.
    Good southern gospel should not just be “nostalgia”, as a bone thrown to the “old-timers.” Most of the time, it was and is just better music. The tide is turning and the deck is starting to get “stacked”
    against those who would sell their birthright for a mess of wattage. Early opera singers -like Melchior- could reach the back row of the balcony without amplification, and there were days when James Blackwood could too.

  10. DP wrote:

    #’s 1 2 3 and 4: You have all hit on some key points - I agree with each of you.

    Justafan - I hope you are wrong on your info. You gotta have a piano player. There has to be at least one “token” musician. I mean - who better to hit the button on the track machine then the piano player???

    I have been a musician for SG groups off and on for close to 30 years and I really miss the days of The Hinsons, Hemphills, Gold City of the 1980’s, Kingsmen of the 70-80-90’s, etc…. Kudos to The Dove Brothers for adding a drummer and bass player. More acts need to take the leap of faith. The Dixie Echoes rock - with absolutely no tracks… (they just need a drummer!) Like Doug, one of my favorite moments at NQC this year was Jason Crabb’s set. The 3 piece band was awesome. Maybe some day things will change from the massively orchestrated tracks, but I doubt it……….

  11. Irishlad wrote:

    …..to see panties thrown on stage”.Was Tom Jones at the NQC? Stranger things have happened,after all take a look at his latest CD.

  12. Knows Nothing wrote:

    To Dixie Dawg
    AMEN,AMEN,AMEN!!

  13. Michael McIlwain wrote:

    I think what Tom was saying in post #6 is that we need a revolution like Wayon Jennings and the Outlaw movement that sprang up in country music in the 1970s. It could be done, but it will take personalities that are willing to forge their own pathway and be willing to pay the price for taking this direction.

  14. Tjeerd wrote:

    I was there Friday nite, Saturday afternoon (100th anv. showcase) , and Saturday nite. and the exhibit trade show
    It was alot of music in a 37 hour span.
    Barely had time to eat. I would think its near impossible to take in a whole week of music.
    I loved the show case exhibit. I loved meeting-talking to people, finding bargains ..I’m Dutch… L5 CD’s all $5.00!.. take that Dove Brothers! , buying hard to find products etc.
    Dennis Swanberg- he is funny, Claude and Les?.. Gerald Wolf?…no.

  15. Bones wrote:

    Groups that did not appear often you waited in excitement to hear them. The ChuckWagon Gang with Anna and Rose and maybe if you were lucky you could have Jimmie Davis. It was so rare that is was a great experience to see them. Oh it was great. Guitars only. My Catherdal of dreams. Even the funny glasses were great. Those days are over and they will never be back.

  16. GC/EHSS/L5 fan wrote:

    The Perrys have a piano player. His name is Troy Peach.

  17. GB wrote:

    There’s a recession going on. If the groups don’t have to pay a band, they are financially better off. They just put their tracks on a laptop and…Voila! Plus, it makes travel easier. Don’t get me wrong–I love a live band. I used to sing with part-time groups and there was nothing better than loading up all the equipment and people on that Silver Eagle and hitting the road but “times, they are a-changin’.”

  18. NG wrote:

    “When the music today is really good, it’s as good or better than the best music I’ve heard from any previous era.”

    Really? Which group is as close to being as innovative as the Statesmen of the 50s? Who matches the Imperials sound of the late 60s and early 70s? Is there a mixed group as polished as the Weatherfords when they had Payne, Morales and Slaughter?

    As well, a lot of those old albums had a better mixture of material because the groups looked everywhere for good music from the pop/country charts to black gospel. “Light” by the Oaks is a good example with three Andre Crouch song and two first-rate country numbers.

  19. JL wrote:

    I found this on you-tube. Seriously Clarke ?!?!?!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djwB1EgBkHw&feature=related

    clarkewbeasley
    9 hours ago
    Please remove this and all NQC main stage content from YouTube. This footage may be seen legally by subscribing to the NQC Webcast.

    Clarke Beasley

    Exec. VP

    National Quartet Convention, Inc.

  20. noninsider wrote:

    19.Clarke goes on his youtube witch hunt after NQC every year…

  21. Bones wrote:

    Tom Gervat, They have Christain Country. It is totally a whole different group of people. They stay busy in their world which is separate from Southern Gospel. Go to their convention sometime it is good if you like Christain country. Get outside your box.

  22. Wade wrote:

    Panties… if they do not make it to the stage it is usually because they are stuck in the skimmer of the Hot Tub in the Suite of a Hotel Room!! ;-)))) :-)

  23. Gospel Has Been wrote:

    Perry have a great piano player already on the roster and that is Troy Peach so if they need a piano he can play.

  24. matt wrote:

    I have a great idea for a music video. Gold City could do “I think I’ll Read it Again’, and have Brian Free getting all tangled up and tripping over giant blessed pages of Scripture….. now that I think of it, he was also getting tangled up by those blessed pitches too.

  25. ABC wrote:

    Matt, you’re right. No one should be allowed to have the slightest pitch problems even if the band does not give them a pitch, and even if they have not sung that song with that group in 19 years.

    Get a life.

  26. SomebodysGotToSayIt wrote:

    Wade…do you ever have anything meaningful/purposeful to add to the conversation?

    In all of the writing on this site that I’ve sifted thru for years, you consistently seem to be the most vile and least educated when constructing a post.

    In the future, could you at least show some type of a viewpoint that is relevant to the topics being discussed?

  27. lovelife wrote:

    Well, here’s my final thought….I just re-listened to the talent contest winners and then the few groups they had on Sat. night before the “big” names came on and I for one do not think SG is dying. In fact, a couple of those groups were actually better than the professionals that followed. just sayin

  28. SG_Obzerver wrote:

    RE: #19

    Dear Clarke Beasley,

    Bite Me.

  29. frank wrote:

    If someone’s throwing panties at NQC they’ve gotta be “control tops”

  30. Bud wrote:

    #29 - Is that what is meant by pitch control?

  31. Randy wrote:

    I’ve read each of your posts on the NQC, and, while I’ll probably never attend, I feel like I’ve been there. Several times.

    On TV, through DVDs, etc. I’ve seen and felt what you did.

    In church on Sunday, “stacks”, volume, lights, smoke, it’s all there.

    Almost like they’re all trying to “out-same” each other, regardless of where their finger’s pointing.

    The other side? I can go to a small country church where a family trio sings off-key accompanied by only a piano in need of tuning or a guitar in need of a “polished” player, and be brought to tears.

    By what? You said it–sincerity.

    There will always be an audience for the pros–NQC or not.

    I’ll choose the country church, every time.

    Thanks for your insight. It hurts, but it’s accurate.

  32. apathetic wrote:

    If someone was throwing panties on stage at NQC it was because their Depends were full and they were attempting to toss them into a trash can and missed.

  33. swhalen wrote:

    A live band could be financially lucrative if done properly. That is the right music with the best musicians. It has the added benefit of perhaps attracting a younger crowd that spends more in a month on music than most SG fans do in a year (probably due to the dearth of quality).

    While not SG, I refer you to Denver and the Mile High Orchestra. The sport a band of 12 or so, and while the vocals are average the arrangements and musicianship more than make up for it. Check out an arrangement of “It is Well” here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWNjIxtLj9E&feature=related.

    I think my point is that everything in SG seems to be done with quality as an afterthought. I would be more likely to travel a greater distance for the live band that two blocks to listen to the same track that’s on my CD. Or am I missing something?

    P.S. Don’t forget the many Cathedral songs with just a bass and piano. I still listen to them today.

  34. DixieDawg wrote:

    To #33:

    Thank you so much for that link to “Denver & the Mile High Orchestra”. That was just incredible. It reminds me of what it would sound like if Harry Connick, Jr. went “Gospel”. I had to post that on my Facebook page. WOW!!!

  35. Wade wrote:

    Hey Somebodyhastosayit… NO you Don’t!!! If you look there was 3 more panty jokes after mine so take your fiber. oh and NOBODY else agreed, probably will now that I mentioned it from all the haters.

    But you are correct most uptight ppl do not apprecaite my humor, but that is OK I did not write it for you!!!

    As far as being uneducated that post has some VERY INSIDE info I doubt your dumb ass would know anything about!!! Refer to message in #28!!! Ditto.

  36. wanderer wrote:

    I can’t even get away from cussing on what is supposed to be a Christian site.

  37. Auke wrote:

    I think a revolution should take place…the industry leaves very little room for newcomers….it’s all about proven concepts in SGM. And that adds up to more of the same..i’m listening as i write to a copy of The Couriers Unlimited..and that’s how i get by…listening to old stuff i never heard before that sounds refreshing and new to my ears…even when it’s a evident 80’s album.
    Rarely there’s an new album that excites me….even the new GVB album didn’t keep my attention long….i just realized that i haven’t played it for weeks.
    That has nothing to do with the singers involved, or that the sound is bad….the excitement seems gone…..and a lot of the songs will be hard to reproduce in a live setting.
    I wrote a rave review on gaithercommunity at first….because i set myself to be enthousiastic…but honesty bids me to say otherwise.

  38. quartet-man wrote:

    #37 Auke, the one with Michael English? How did you find that? I found one years and years ago in Half Price Books before I (or I think most anyone else) knew he had been in there. It was obviously him on the cover. I didn’t particularly care for it at the time. It has been probably 15 years since I have listened to it.

  39. Auke wrote:

    q-man yep the one with Michael English.
    Let’s say i got a copy through a good friend….check me out on facebook…i’ll hook u up..if u want it that is.

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000611643111

  40. matt wrote:

    25.ABC wrote:

    “Matt, you’re right. No one should be allowed to have the slightest pitch problems even if the band does not give them a pitch, and even if they have not sung that song with that group in 19 years.

    Get a life.”

    To #25,ABC
    They (Gold City) got a pitch from somewhere…..Brian Free had pitch problems even with the full band. I have zero tolerance for pitch issues. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t sung the song in 30 years. You either can sing on pitch or you can’t. Sure there are tech. problems etc…. When these guys go up on stage, they are supposed to be good at what they do. And for the most part they are.

    For me, I had such high hopes in hearing this particular version of Gold City again. However, with the exception of Tim Riley, and Mike Lefevre, I was dissappointed.

  41. DixieDawg wrote:

    Re: #37 - Very interesting point!

    I have noticed something over the years that is prevalent in politics, in Corporate America, in education, in churches, in secular music and even in the Southern Gospel world. And, it is not positive.

    Somewhere along the way, and years ago, a few people (we call them royalty) took the helm of control. In politics, they’re called the Kennedy, Clinton and Bush families.

    In Corporate America, they are called Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and George Soros.

    In education, they are called Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Columbia Universities.

    In church, they are Charles Stanley, Dr. David Jeremiah and the sprinkling of Charismatic televangelists that light up the screen. Anyway, you get the point.

    In Southern Gospel, it’s no different. It is Bill Gaither (who actually revived and saved the Southern Gospel format). It is also Claude Hopper, Clarke Beasley, and the big names like Gold City, BFA, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Signature Sound, Ivan Parker, Kingsmen, Perry’s, McKameys, Isaacs, etc. I know I have left out key people, but again, you get the point. One day my husband even pointed out - “You know, when you get to thinking about it, it’s actually a very small group (referring to the big SG artists)”.

    Now, to get to my real point…..I have a very talented friend who has been in the Christian Drama/Comedy ministry for almost 20 years. He has even traveled briefly with some of the folks on the Homecoming Tours, not performing, but just traveling for a couple of weeks. He knows a lot of the “Gospel Elite”. However, he has never, ever been able to “break in” to the “big time”. (If you get my drift)

    He is very talented and is actually a very nice, ethical person which huge amounts of integrity. He has a college education and is a good person with a true moral compass who gets excited when someone comes to know the Lord at the end of his performances. He has called me so excited that someone “got saved last night”. He is an excellent communicator, a convincing actor and a versatile performer. Most importantly, he’s sincere about his message.

    He knows all the right people, but NO ONE - yes - NO ONE will help him, or even talk to the “right” people for him.

    The SG industry, just like Washington, D.C. and Nashville’s Music Row, is a closed industry, unless you are somehow interconnected to the royalty in the “right way”. (or, you marry into the royalty or the royalty decides that they like you) A lot of the independent groups struggle and they are talented, but the door remains open for the chosen few. How sad - you would hope that it would be different in Christian music.

  42. Auke wrote:

    #Dixiedawg;
    I didn’t wanna come across like a frustrated singer myself…..yes i sing…and have a sound all my own…my problem is that i was born in a country where Gospelmusic is looked upon as unhip….especially SGM. I sing in a trio…called The Shaped Notes….and we do pretty well..just enough gigs to manage our individual day job schedules. I would trade my job (and it’s a good one..i would say it’s so good salary wise that even guys in the elite ranks can’t touch me…but i would take a drastic cut in income to sing as a pro. But God has placed me here, so i make the most of what i do now….and still daydream..i mean the kind that reoccurs everyday. This is what i was born to do…..but God has plans with me..so i’m not sour…or bitter….i choose to be thankful..afterall i found two other guys who love this music too..and who can sing also. And in this country finding one kindred spirit (musically wise) is a miracle….finding two is a blessing!
    I agree with what you wrote completly…but i’m not over there….so it’s a whole different ballgame for me.
    I will pray for your friend that he may be ‘discovered’…..the Great Talent Scout knows him already…..that’s the greatest reward for any Christian performer.

  43. Odeliya wrote:

    Why would it be different? Entertainment business, religious or not, is a cut throat business. While I am sure there are some christians in it,for the most part is dog eats dog world of entertainment. Let’s hope your friend stumbles upon some decent godly people in the business that would help. Presuming he is good that is, which I am sure he is.There is enough junk SG music and comedy around as I see …

  44. Andrew S. wrote:

    Did anyone make any mention of Suzan Speer being at the 100th Anniversary thing??

    It was a delight seeing her back on stage with the Speers of the 70s. :)

    I, for one, would have loved to have seen Jane Greene Johnson & Bill Itzel come back, too. It’s like they just skipped over them. :(

  45. Tjeerd wrote:

    @DixieDawg

    Every so on someone comes by and upsets the establishment. Obama did it to Clinton, the Tea Party are doing it to the Republicans-look at how Rand Paul stuck to Mitch McConnell.
    Tell your buddy to hang in there. Christian Comedy is a tough buisness, not a lot of room in SG circles. He may want to try other avenues.
    Look at Tim Hawkins.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO2eh6f5Go0

    3 Million you tube hits.

    There is a demand for clean comedy.
    http://www.laughforlife.ca/Talent/TimHawkins/tabid/63/Default.aspx

  46. Bones wrote:

    We don’t want to take utube down and we are going to stay in hotels that don’t have convention mark up prices. Its still a free country.

  47. Auke wrote:

    #43

    I’m afraid you are right…yet i don’t believe that there’s a division between Christians and the cut throat crowd…..i know quite a few Christian business people (not in SGM or music/entertainment) who view bizz strictly as bizz..no emotion/empathy involved…while privately they are the nicest folk. So i think that line has blurred more than we are willing to admit.

  48. Larry Ferguson wrote:

    Well written Doug.

    I think the NQC has become a ritual for most of us and potential ticket holders haven’t caught the value of it yet. Part of this isn’t that the NQC isn’t relevant but more of the fact that Southern Gospel has lost a lot of it’s stronger personalities. The 1970’s seemed to be the greatest years for creativity and artists to shine in Southern Gospel. Though the industry has many great artists none have had that break out and far reaching success that the 1970’s and senior greats had. Of course during these years Southern Gospel wasn’t labeled “Southern Gospel” it was known only as “Gospel Music”. I think even the Gaither product sales are slumping as they try to search for the right artists and audience to reach. He basically capitalized and saw the value in the historic legendary figures of our industry and most are gone. Some clever and creative will have to take place for the convention to have the impact it once had.

    Even though I didn’t attend this year I look forward to attending next year and visiting with old friends and people I never see other than at the NQC. Dollywood has attracted a lot of Southern Gospel fans. I actually know several people who move to the Pigeon Forge area for the entire month of October so they can attend shows at the park every day. For one season pass you can see lots of shows and the kids have something to do along with the Southern Gospel museum being located there. I’m not sure but I believe one week’s admission to NQC is more expensive than an entire season pass to the park. It’s unfortunate that the city of Pigeon Forge doesn’t have a building capable of housing NQC because that city has quickly became to Southern Gospel what Nashville is to Country Music.

    One of the comments mentioned Tom Jones and asked if he was a gospel singer. Would you believe he has a new gospel cd out now ? It has Ain’t No Grave and Didn’t It Rain and other selections.

    See you guys next year.

  49. Hector Luna wrote:

    There have been alot of good points brought up and even some opposing views are quite convincing. I do believe Southern Gospel will always be around. There will be people who like it forever, if it evolves or not. I actually wouldn’t mind if we just moved everything current to what it was like in the 70’s and early 80’s. The excess of heavily orchestrated tracks on the player gotta go. Not because I don’t like it, but I do believe it’s contributing to something stale in the industry. You think of the greatest albums of all time, and many turn out to be “Live” albums. The Cathedrals’ “Live in Atlanta” and “Travelin’ Live”, Singing Americans’ “Live & Alive”, The Kingsmen “Big & Live” and “Chattanooga Live”. I always thought Gold City’s “10th Anniversary Celebration” was an exciting album too.
    I know I’m missing some key albums, but those groups were exciting to hear live. Even if you thought their talent was mediocre, they were exciting. I do not believe there is a lack of talent in SG. A lot of these guys (and girls) could sing with the best in country music or contemporary music, period. But the lack of authenticity in the music is tough. Also, the lack of creativity in songwriting. There are good, creative songs written today, but it’s not where it used to be. I think that’s because many are not writing about culturally relevant issues anymore. We’re writing the same stuff we’ve been writing for years.

  50. Auke wrote:

    Larry i actually own that Tom Jones album….it’s the only one i’ve got of Tom. It’s entitled Praise & Blame, and it’s quite good…it has Bob Dylan songs on it, a John Lee Hooker, Pops Staples ‘Don’t Knock’..bgv’s like Gillian Welch,Oren Waters,Louis Price. Booker T.Jones on piano/B3 and Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon) on several instruments and producing. It’s a rootsy album..recorded live in a studio. This is the way J.J.Cale used to record…..and it is infectious…..the way some SG groups should record…..hint GVB.
    I like it…..it’s honest music….and Jones’s voice appealed to me for the first time.

  51. ABC wrote:

    Hey Matt,

    I think your explanation is reasoanble. However, I would say that entire group, including Ivan Parker and Free and very talented as individuals.

    I’m not sure why Free was slightly pitchy and Parker was having some minor vocal difficulties, but I would assume you have heard them both when they are “on” and that you know they don’t sing like that.

    I chose to enjoy the moment of the best bass, best tenor, most awarded soloist, and smooth-as-glass baritone all singing together again. It was an unprecedented, talent-heavy lineup that SG will probably never see again. And, incidentally, from my perch in the bleachers they sounded really, really good overall. It was a big highlight of NQC. Parker did seem to be struggling just a bit, but was not that bad. Sorry.

  52. SomebodysGotToSayIt wrote:

    Hey, Wade thanks for the insulting name calling. Yet again, you show your lack of intelligence by not being able to utilize words that consist of more than three or four letters.

    As far as the fiber joke, everything still works well at my age I assure you. I do wonder if you can say the same.

    In response to the “great insider info” that you speak of, everybody that’s in the music knows the stories. It is, however, your ignorance that thinks it’s hillarious to dredge those issues time and time again. Remember what the music is supposed to be about. How is that in any way furthering the Kingdom of God…or even simply improving the music.

    I don’t know you in real life, but on this site…you’re useless.

    PS - I hope you got the intensity of the last statement. I didn’t use Caps Lock which you are so inclined to do, but hope you got it.

  53. Auke wrote:

    #49 That are great albums you mentioned…i don’t think one would classify one of the artists on those mediocre.
    Tom Jones album is really great….the sound of the band is raw energy….imagine a group of 3 or 4 male vocalists singing stuff like that…..now that’s exciting stuff….on the traditional ‘Run On’ Tom kinda sounds like Michael English….buy the record and if you are too cheap download it…it’s all over the services like 4shared rapidshare and such..

  54. Ted wrote:

    I’ve got a question for everyone. Have you sat there at convention and listened to the overall sound and thought to yourself, HMMM, how can I clap or get anything out of it because i can’t really hear it. From an artist standpoint, you don’t have to run the sound so blooming loud that it’s unbearable, however, if it’s not making it past the third row, you will work your butt off trying to get it past the third row. What most people in the crowd don’t see or know is, these artist have gotten use to their own systems and when they come to convention every year, they are already ready to fight for the sound. Even though they have no say in their sound for the crowd. Now let me say this, volume does not have to be loud, but having someone at the front of house mixer that runs sound every week for these artist, goes into every size church, knows what the people like is a must. So when you sit back and say you can’t understand why artist are struggling with pitches, timing and other things, understand, if your use to ear monitors for 20 years and then you get them on stage with no room bounce, they are going to struggle. Plus you can jack the monitors up blooming loud, but you can’t expect them to convey the song correctly when they are constantly trying to hear. Plus, four songs is not time to get things right on stage. Sound checks are kept to half of one song, and hopefully when you get back on stage, nothing has changed in the house and monitor mix (HA, NOT!!). This is why I would much rather go to their dates on weekends and see them on their systems. They are comfortable, able to be at ease and let God take control. OH, maybe thats what NQC needs, let God out of the box and take the clock off the stage.. “Another thread for ya’ll!”

    Until the next time, just remember this, if your afraid the sounds going to be loud, DON’T SIT IN FRONT OF THE SPEAKERS!!!.

  55. matt wrote:

    In spite of all the crap and complaints being tossed around here, I am bothered by one thing more than any other. I have never yet been able to attend a NQC, and am jealous of all you who are seemingly able to go time after time……..maybe some day I’ll get to go for real. I’d be loving it……..so please don’t take it for granted when you are able to physically attend the concerts. It’s ok to gripe and whine, but as long as you remember what a privilege it is to actually be there, and to hear some of the (usually) greatest music in the world!

  56. Tjeerd wrote:

    @54 “Ted”

    I sat halfway down the lower level.
    I agree, it was too loud.
    The gentleman beside me was even wearing earplugs.

  57. BUICK wrote:

    Dixie (#41), I’m pretty old and remember when the business was dominated by the Blackwoods and Statesmen with the Jordanaires coming in a pretty distant third and people like Les Beasley, Earl Weatherford and Howard & Vestal hoping for a glimpse at the big time. Every generation has its superstars and those who aren’t tell themselves that if it weren’t for the glass ceiling, they’d be famous. Some pay their dues and get their chance. When they do, some make it and some show they are not yet ready for primetime. There is a reason why the top dogs are the top dogs. Often it is musical talent. Sometimes it is marketing talent or business talent. Occasionally (but rarely) it is dishonesty. (Those folks don’t stick around too long before they are exposed and expelled.) The wannabes have to pay their dues and pray for a break. It may come and it may not.

    I’ve known a couple of minor league baseball pitchers who thought they didn’t get a fair shake because of some household name who was ahead of them. Baseball owners want to win and SG promoters want to sell tickets. If they’ve got the talent, they will usually get the chance. But there are more who THINK they are great than there are who really are great.

  58. Wade wrote:

    Dixie Dawg… please have your friend contact me through my facebook page that you can find by clicking my name. I do stand up comedy and we are constantly looking for ppl who can truly work clean. It is tough to do and not just be GOOFY which is what most clean or Christian Comicz are. I can get them work.

    As far as Gold City Reunion… seemed pretty clear to me the issue Ivan was having was holding back emotions. Sound like Brian was singiing over his range if that is possible but his pitch issues seemed to be from REACHING for the notes. and it is tough to start a song acapella after all those years with no pitch cue. If they got one I did not hear it but often can come through the ear monitors.

    Some one said Brian should not have done that on Mic… I don’t know how else he could have called for it!!!??

    If you been around you know I would not be afraid to rip on them. But I can’t even give them a hard time for missing rehearsal or sound check they are legends….and for whatever issues Brian had I think he has performed long enough at a very high level that he should easily get a pass.

    somebodysgotto…or whatever… your not worth it don’t know what your problem is, but God Bless Your Heart!!!

  59. Larry Ferguson wrote:

    Got the Tom Jones CD. It’s pretty good. Thanks for recommending it after I mentioned it.

  60. cdguy wrote:

    Buick — #57 — I think you’re right on. And I’d add a couple of things:

    1. Sometimes whether we make it to the upper tier has to do with God’s blessing. He knows who should be there, and who shouldn’t. Sometimes we need to bloom where we’re planted. If we haven’t made it to the top, maybe it’s because God wants to use us somewhere else.

    2. I’ve told wannabe’s before that sometimes it’s like trying to get a job at a factory or office, or anywhere else. Yes, maybe you can do that job just as well as (or better than) the worker who’s already doing it, but that job’s already filled. The manager isn’t going to fire their existing worker, just to hire you.

  61. Michael McIlwain wrote:

    # 59, Larry, I agree with you. I downloaded Tom Jones album to my ipad last Friday. WOW! This album rocks and is so soulful. Tom does a great job on “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and “Run On.”

  62. ABC wrote:

    For once in my life, I agree with Wade. It’s not possible!!

  63. Bones wrote:

    The best all time event at NQC was the Happy Goodman Family and their security guards standing by the stage stairs. Who could have carried one off? You certainly would have taken it back if you got one.

  64. Videoguy wrote:

    I noticed that Clarke B’s comments on YouTube are getting flagged as ’spam’.

  65. Tjeerd wrote:

    About Sarah Palin:

    I arrived on Friday, so I did not hear Sarah speak. During the Saturday nite concert they showed a hilight video of the weeks events. When Sarah came up the reaction in the crowd was somewhat muted. How did you all (ya’ll) feel about Les Beasley bringing Sarah Palin in to speak. Was it worth it? Did you attend the NQC because of Sarah? Should politics and Southern Gospel mix?
    Its not the first time.
    We have also seen Judge Roy Moore political ads in Singing News. We have seen polical personalities sing (Singing Senators, Gov. Jimmie Davis) sing gospel music at SG functions.

  66. Wade wrote:

    Any thing by Clarke is Spam!!! Right??

    But believe me they laugh all the way to the bank by selling the wannabe groups booth space.

    The NQC needs a STRONG Producer/Director!! They could do so much better and it would not cost any more to do it!!

    I wished the story of how the pooch was screwed over the SN Fan Awards was known. Somebody had to be having MINE is BIGGER than YOURS contest.

    Give me a strong stage manager, 3 or 4 Sound & Stage Techs with input from the groups tech person and I promise I could make a show ppl would enjoy seeing.

    Such a waste to see what they throw up now. When the showcases are better than the shows in the main show it is pretty SAD!!

    But God Bless their hearts… it is interesting from a secular entertainment show producers perspective to KNOW what can be done… and watch what they do with it!!

    One of the most fundamental things of at least darkening, pipe & draping or tarping off the empty seats tells me somebody is a dumb ass. I am sorry I know some of you will be banging on me for using that kinda language but it is what it is… there is just no other way to put it when something that BASIC is missed.

    I bet the show at Dollywood this weekend SMOKES!!!

  67. Rev. Al wrote:

    I really think people had accepted the “canned music” to a reasonable degree. Most fans understand the expense of a band and southern gospel is mostly about the vocals anyway - however where many of us are getting put out with the artificial sound is when all the heavy stacking became prominent. Soundtracks - understandable. Stacking - not so much.

  68. pj wrote:

    Did anyone notice the mention of the NQC in the Oct. 14 issue of Rolling Stone magazine?

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