Quote of the day

Thus David Bruce Murray:

Sisters is a trio with remarkable singing abilities. It fascinates me that 800-1000 people in my region will buy a ticket and pack out an auditorium to see a group like the Chuck Wagon Gang or the Inspirations, but only 150-200 will come to a love offering concert to hear Sisters.

The comment comes in the context of this remarkable little tutorial the group posted on its website recently.

Notionally, the conceit here is that a lot of folks have asked for help singing the la-la-las with the accompaniment track for the Sisters’ song “I Can’t Keep From Singing.” But it’s just undiluted loveliness, managing to be full of that fascinating “how-the-sausage-is-made” insideriness and yet radiating with charm, brilliance, and intense musicality.

Update: I usually try to stay out of the comments threads, but I’m making an exception to address the apparent confusion that’s starting to flourish around my use of the word “conceit” in my comments above, a use that some readers are (wrongly) reading as a sideways swipe at Sisters. The thinking here seems to be that I can’t even say anything nice without getting off a pot shot along the way. I’m going to let that last part of the debate go for now and focus on this “conceit” issue. I suspect something got lost in translation here, mostly owing to the hazards of my day job and my failure to write more clearly. In literary criticism we speak of a “conceit” as a seemingly or apparently straightforward image or idea that governs a work of art and supports something larger or more important or complex or interesting. I used the word too loosely here as a shorthand way to say, essentially, that the video may have been notionally intended to demonstrate how to sing the la-la-las, but it actually is and does something far more complex and fascinating. But it’s not a bad thing, in any case, and no insult was intended. As I told one reader in an email, I assume this won’t prove very persuasive if you’re in no more mood to give the benefit of the doubt than some of these comment suggests. But really, I don’t think you can come away on balance from the post above with the feeling that I had some ulterior desire to take pot shots. Indeed, I think I have a pretty good track record of taking my pot shots head on. Now, may we please go back to talking about how great the Ruppe sisters are?

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  1. LarryS wrote:

    I have to say that I don’t get it, either. I guess you’re really talking about completely different audiences within SG, but STILL… How a group with the raw talent AND polish possessed by Sisters isn’t at the top of the SG world is a mystery to me.

  2. Janet B wrote:

    Because…it’s about men. It’s always about men…
    And - being men - you guys should know that already. Duh.
    Everyone goes so ga-ga over the Booth Brothers…these ladies can sing them under the table. But, oh well…
    I’m not bitter…really…

  3. Steven wrote:

    I agree with you Larry and Janet both.
    While I am more partial to quartets or mixed groups…the sisters can stand on stage and better anyone. In fact, I sent this video clip to a young guy in my church, who really isn’t a fan at all of southern gospel (because he’s seen the lack of polish most groups bring) - and he was blown away by this.

    Just on a side note: I don’t believe that the Sisters have been really marketed strongly. I know they’ve been “pushed” as it were…but something seems missing. However, i’m a fan!

  4. Tim wrote:

    It is hard to compare a 75 year old entity with a 5 year old entity. The Sisters are awesome and in time could be a draw.

  5. jnoahrod wrote:

    Brought tears to my eyes and shivers to my spine.

    I think a major problem with SG is the production can be sooo poor. I have been blown away in a live concert, yet couldn’t get through the same song while listening to the CD. Case in point–Hoppers Shoutin Time.

    I think most people are exposed to SG via CD or the radio and just not very impressed due to the production quality. At that point there is no chance they will take the risk of sitting through a live concert.

    Love them Sisters!!!

  6. observor wrote:

    It’s about songs… The need a song. It is that simple.

  7. Jonathan Edwards wrote:

    The Sisters are very talented we knew that back when they where know as the Ruppes, the reason in my opinion is that one time as another person has said they have been around all that long as the Sisters, they where the Ruppes and then Lordsong or part of them were and now they are The Sisters give it time. Personal prefrence is a huge factor as well in this discussion regarding the chucks and sisters. I love them both depends on my mood but to be honest not sure there is big difference between Sisters and Point of Grace love both by the way so if i lean more traditional in my sg listening i will perfer The Inspirations and Chucks over the Sisters if I am more broad in my music listening I perfer the Sister just one mans opinion.

  8. SteveSmith wrote:

    I don’t understand either. Mark Lowry has promoted them, had them open for him, had them on his videos. I don’t know why they haven’t caught on. Maybe is is the female thing. I thought we would have heard more from the female quartet Janet Paschal put together for NQC last year, but I haven’t seen anything come of that either.

  9. Jeff Gurnett wrote:

    Really, Doug. You had to take a shot at them that their video post was rooted in “conceit?” Really? Geez…

  10. Doug Sword wrote:

    As a guy who perfers male quartets, I was blown away by this. I tried to think of any quartet who could sit down in front of a video camera and pull something similar off. The first one I could think of is the Melody Boys. While they are ultra traditional, Gerald Williams has always put together a group that is musically literate andcapable of singing without any of the modern crutches.

  11. Bones wrote:

    #9 They are conceited

  12. Bones wrote:

    The Inspirations are nice to people and remember you.

  13. Andrew S. wrote:

    The Sisters’ lack of marketing is because they’re being handed off as a generally new group. They’re having to work the ropes that other “new” groups have to work in the industry. And their name is also a tad bit forgettable..especially since they are a family group. But they may set a trend by going for the less obvious–instead of, ahem, a family name (i.e.- Collingsworth, Isaacs, Hopper, etc.).

    #8 (Steve Smith)- The “Janet Paschal Quartet” will be appearing on her new cd. She’s (Janet) finishing up the songwriting and will be laying down tracks & vocals for a possible early 2012 release.

  14. Sabrina wrote:

    Sisters is an awesome group….. #11 Conceited or not they can sing. Why anyone would choose the Chuck Wagon Gang over Sisters (or any other group for that matter) is beyond me! The CWG needs to take a long, hard look at how they are behaving these days…

  15. irishlad wrote:

    DBM.. that was good,for a yank you´re pretty smart! :)

  16. cheeseburger wrote:

    #10 Have you heard the Melody Boys lately? THEY SUCK. I’m not saying they haven’t been “musically literate and capable” in the past, but that is certainly not the case these days.

  17. Charles Brady wrote:

    It’s very easy to confuse being conceited with being shy. These ladies are not in any way shape or form conceited and anyone who really knows them will attest to that fact. They are just about as far from being conceited as anyone I know. These are 3 very talented and gifted ladies who carry themselves with a lot of poise and grace and humility.

  18. ode wrote:

    17, if thats true and they are shy,etc they better get out of this dog eats dog entertainment business, or they wil never make it.

    Grow teeth, or, if they like to remain ladylike and sweet, hire a badass “dont-mess-with-me” manager to do their dirty work . Or just sing as a hobby ;)

  19. Chris wrote:

    Hey Cheesburger…. Have you Heard us lately…. When was the last time you heard the Melody Boys…. A whole new group since January….. I have to disagree with your comment about us… We work very hard on our harmonies and vocals… I would love to know the last time you heard the group… I hate you feel this way…. Would love to Prove You Wrong…LOL…. God Bless….

  20. quartet-man wrote:

    I read this a few days ago. I am not sure I saw it the first time:


  21. Michael Davis wrote:

    Sisters is by far one of the most talented artist in any genre of Christian music. Having known the Ruppe family for many years, I can attest to their desire to bring perfection to their performances, sincerity to their ministry and always a special love and appreciation of their fans.

    Shy….MAYBE (but I don’t think so) Talented….ABSOLUTELY

    When you see and hear them sing, you will instantly become a fan!

  22. Bones wrote:

    How are the CWG behaving? Explain

  23. cheeseburger wrote:

    #19 Chris, while I respect that you all work hard… well, I have heard the newest version of the MBQ and that is were I draw my conclusion from. I have all the respect in the world for Gerald Williams, but he has had better groups on the road……..far better groups.

  24. Nate Stainbrook wrote:

    There is no trio out there in any genre of music, that has the harmony of these ladies… WOW

  25. Extra Ink wrote:

    I love Sisters. The two factors that always win in gospel music are (1) great material (2) great singing. The Sisters can flat out sing, and although “I Can’t Keep From Singing” is a very nice song, they are still looking for that one GREAT song that takes them over the top….

  26. Wade wrote:

    Ok lets talk about How GREAT the SISTERS ARE!!!

    I gave a fairly lengthy review of a service I saw them in on Mother’s Day on an Open Thread a while back. Don’t want to regurgitate the entire things here, so lets just say THE GIRLS can GO!!!… and Ode if they ever need THAT ASSHOLE manager I am volunteering for the job!!! I believe I could do something with them!!

    They are the female version of The Gatlin Bros….and lotsa more fun to look at!!

    They were also very spiritual at times but also FUN & yes they were the dreaded (for some of you) ENTERTAINING & FUNNY. Love it when a Group MC SCOLDS a crowd, especially in a BAAAAAPTIST Church & during one song introduction Kim exclaimed for the crowd to… WAKE UP People!!

    Although I enjoyed them when MuM was still singing with them I enjoy them much more now cause the weepy thing does not go well with me!!

    SO I say LA-LA -LA -LA… Go Girlz!!!

    Any time you need a date to sing in Chattanooga HOLLA!!!

    Plus they wear Great Shoes!! ;-)

  27. Videoguy wrote:

    Wow, very easy on the…um…ears.

  28. Gayla wrote:

    Cheeseburger, I truly appreciate your opinion and your right to have and express that opinion. However, I wish you would take a chance and go hear Gerald Williams and The Melody Boys Quartet again. I’m glad you have respect for Gerald. He is simply too experienced a musician to have a “bad” Quartet on the road. In my humble opinion, he would simply quit after 62 years if he could not provide a quality “product”. They may not be your “cup of tea” or fit your Musical tastes; however, they are a quality 4 part harmony traditional Gospel Quartet. I hope you will listen to the songs from the new project when we are able to get them on the website. Thanks for reading!

  29. Bill Bailey wrote:

    Doug, I actually understood your comment and agreed wholeheartedly! Maybe that was the reason I won the English award several times in high school. LOL

    As for the Sisters, there is not a more talented group, vocally, in southern gospel - and quite possibly, Christian music. I came to this conclusion, first hand, at the 2010 Dove Awards preshow. The Sisters were the host of this ceremony, which is actually where most of the Doves are given out. I forget which hymn it was, but they sang an acapella version of the hymn in each musical genre that an award was being presented. It was a neat concept, and I know of no other musical artist that could have pulled it off. There was absolutely no room for error. They were incredible and flawless. This was an especially daunting task, considering that the room was full of peers that were mostly not sympathetic to their southern gospel background. And yet, everyone left that ceremony talking about how great they did. It made me proud that these were our girls (not condescending) from southern gospel.

  30. irishlad wrote:

    I knew what you meant,but hey,we can´t all be smart :)

  31. Tad Kirkland wrote:

    There is truth to a lot of this. I’m sure they’re using the name because Lowry picked it and they want to ride that train as much as possible, but it’s too generic–sounds like an “I’m a strong African-American woman and you can’t beat me down” Oprah-esque compilation CD. I get the uniqueness of a sisters group, but think they actually lose identity with that name. It’d be like the Hoppers going by “Family” or Jason Crabb going by “Man”. They could use a “Hope’s Call” or “Point Of Grace” kinda name, but would probably fair better since they’re not as young as they once were with a lot of time or gumption to build this thing from the ground up again to change it to the Ruppe Sisters. Yeh, it sounds like every other SG name, but it works and they’ve got the Ruppe name to build on. I’m sure they are as many other hopefuls out there want a broader sounding name that would help them appeal to other genres, but they’re not even cutting it in SG in a big way yet and it didn’t hurt the Crabb Family.
    I definitely agree on the material part, and not because the songs they’re singing aren’t great–but more because they’re not familiar. The Booths are able to get away with “Testify” because they sing “Look For Me At Jesus Feet” too. They’ve brilliantly mastered blending familiar with fresh and a lot of personality. Sisters actually did a little of this on the last LordSong CD with a remake of “Jesus Never Fails”. More of this would do them well–fresh arrangements of familiar mixed with some new great songs. American Idol proves this–people are all about the contestants while they’re on the show singing songs the audience knows. Then they record a CD of songs no one knows or can connect with and they may or may not find an audience.
    On the conceited issue… For anyone who does anything well (and better than others in the same field who are more applauded), it’s tough not to come off as snooty. Whether intentional or not, unfortunately Sisters give off this air–there may be some shyness mixed in there with 2 of them, but they’re fallen sinners like the rest of us who likely battle pride and tend to compare themselves to others. So either play up the shy thing, love everybody like the Crabb Family did, or cry-sing like mama did.
    Having said all that, I’ve been a big fan of every incarnation of them since the CD “Under His Wings” was on and agree they’re probably some of the best singers in Christian music–right under Taranda and Phelps. And I’ll keep buying anything they put out there.

  32. Friday Night Revival wrote:

    With a couple of other posters, I agree on a name change. “Sisters” just ain’t that marketable. “we’re going to see the sisters! wanna come?” “whose sister?” If they do break out (and probably will at some point), they better change the name fast!

  33. jeff wrote:

    #24…firing their former bass singer/emcee and trash talking him. They are hurting themselves and it’s so sad.

  34. Ode wrote:

    Av,and you dont even know what got discovered when I re-read your post backwards. Backmasking subliminal satanic messages! Repent!

    seriously though…Doug,many see your every word as a pot shot at something.
    “what fool believes - he sees”;)If one tries hard enough , sky is the limit.
    good old “policeman to compalining woman”m’am, those nudists are over a mile away. You couldn’t possibly see them.” - “With my binoculars I can!”) is always applicable to your sitch

    I actually had to google “conceit”, sure enuf, 1st: “an extended metaphor with a complex logic that governs a poetic passage …conceit invites the reader into a more sophisticated understanding of an object of comparison”So you off the hook (this time ;)

  35. Ode wrote:

    #26, Shoes :D you boys know, ha!
    Great singing by itself means nothing yet, like ma’s fantabulous cooking doesn’t mean success of her potential restaurant. They need much better management/promotion. “Love offerings “? sorta: “I upped my pledge- Up Yours!”? Professionals charge ticket price, unless they dont believe themselves to be worthy.

    Who can be a good artist on cheapskate offerings? It’s not Symphony Orchestra’s donors, we talking stingy SG fans.

    Good point ab. name change.But for the 4 or so time? Girls are in mid-forties already.Good manager, I say.So Wade? make yourself useful? ;)

  36. Chris wrote:

    Cheeseburger, I hate that we are not what you feel we should be…. I Pray you heard us on a bad night, LOL….. We just finished recording a new project and should have it out in the next couple of months…. I Pray you will give it a listen…. I know that some people just dont like the Old Style Quartet that the Melody Boys have been, but this new recording has some good up to date songs on it…. Some new style is coming out with us…. God Bless you….

  37. Kyle wrote:

    I think James Vaughn both created and cursed an industry with the male quartet idea. It was created as a novelty to help sell songbooks (gasp!! MARKETING!!!). The novelty caught on, and we’re still copying that idea a century later.

    Honestly, I would hope that Sisters would move into the Inspo/CCM field with a SG flavor. They’re too talented to be lost in this shuffle.

  38. William wrote:

    I have been and am a huge fan of theirs. But, I guess it all depends on the style you prefer. This style, whatever it is labelled, is probably my favorite. It works for me. I think The Martins would fall in this same category - have some straight SG tunes, but also include a lot of the nontraditional chord arangements (not just 1 - IV- V -I) in a lot of their songs.

    As far as “making it” or “going to the next level” - my opinion is to not forget that they may be right where God wants them and do not need to do anything different. But, I do think they have an awesome ministry and I’d love to see them have as many opportunities to reach as many people as possible. My opinion: Awesome arrangements and great harmony (family harmony always has an advantage here).

    Before posting this, I watched and listened to a clip from a Live at Oak Tree Studio recording. Sitting at my house, the tv on and a 3 year old in the room and I was so xcaught up in the message of the song - chill bumps- and almost tears. They have the ability to deliver a song in a special way. I love this group and I know they aren’t for everybody, but then who is. Here is the clip address (and by the way, is there a better pianist than Stan Whitmire?): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urzaLnnVSJA

  39. Alan wrote:

    (#38) William - The first time I watched Sisters doing that song, I about melted. Most people know how awesome Kim’s voice is, but to hear Valerie soaring on “I’m Going To Make It Through” is staggering. And no, there’s one Stan, and only one. He is in a league of one.

    Personally, I have to agree that they could have a better name. But in a sense it’s unfair…how many male groups have been able to keep “Brothers” in their group’s name for decades, even when all of the original brothers were gone? Today the Booth Brothers have Jim Brady, and two brothers. The Thrasher Brothers were singing with only a couple of brothers out of a band of 7. The Blackwood Brothers went for years when it was only James and the son of one of the original brothers, Cecil. Traditionally when ladies get married, they take their husbands’ name, and so if Sisters went back to The Ruppes, their maiden name, two of them now have different last names. It gets to be awkward.

    All I really know and care about is that whatever name they take, or if they stick with Sisters, they’re around for a very long time. There really is no one like them today; and their harmonies and superb vocal talents simply cannot be lost. Every song they sing is superlative in both its arrangement and execution. Great stuff.

  40. LS wrote:

    #36 Chris…

    Don’t change too much! There are some of us, even on this site, who love the Melody Boys. I can’t wait to hear the new project–the hymns CD you did a few months ago is great!

  41. quartet-man wrote:

    #39 Alan, that is a bit different: The different brothers aren’t called the Brothers (well, the group with George Amon Webster, Roy Tremble and Lorne Matthews was called that, but they didn’t stick around either). The Ruppe Sisters is more comparable and yes two of the three are married, but they could still be called that. Actresses often keep using their maiden names professionally. The Nelons are still called that when there is no one with that last name in the group anymore. Kelly was one of course and her daughter is half of a one. In fact they changed from the LeFevres to the Rex Nelon Singers after they ran out of LeFevres. So, the Ruppe Sisters would at least make identification easier for them even though the Sisters probably sounds cooler.

  42. William wrote:

    #49, as I read your post I also thought of The Perrys - No one with that last name in the group for quite some time now.

  43. Edie wrote:

    Conceit = “something that is conceived.” People, please.

    The Ruppe girls are not conceited in that high school definition of the word that means “stuck up.” However, they do not possess that effusive personality (individually or as a group) that makes audiences immediately feel as though they’re best buddies or well, sisters. They are, in my at-a-distant opinion, very sincere in their faith and yet, they don’t always appear totally comfortable on stage in leadership roles (because they grew up with a drama-queen mama who was.) So, while they may possess truckloads of talent more than anyone else out there, it’s still the awkwardness between songs and the uncertainty of their roles as performers that, in my opinion, may keep fans at arms length. Because everyone knows that southern gospel fans want to feel like they’ve been sitting in your living room for an hour and a half when they leave your concert.

  44. Kyle wrote:

    So where does that leave the Perrys??

  45. wanderer wrote:

    Hmmmmm. I feel like the odd man out here. I like the name “Sisters”. When I found out that’s the name they were going with my first reaction was, “Oh good, not the same old same old”.

    I am going to ask a question that’s going to make me look dumb, but I don’t care. I don’t get southern gospel radio here and I’m not on-line. How do you pronounce Ruppe?
    Is is Rup-pee, Roop, Ru-bay or what?

  46. Tony Watson wrote:

    It’s pronounced Roop

  47. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    The vowel is pronounced “ooo” as in “soup.”

  48. irishlad wrote:

    The conceit of this thread is that the Sisters are conceited but they’re not conceited at all :)

  49. Blackstone wrote:

    Good topic: I will take a stab at it.
    1. The name doesn’t get it.
    2. Three women trying to woo a SG audience by not singing SG songs won’t get it either.
    3. Talent they have–love Kim’s voice.
    4. Talent alone isn’t going to do it. Need a fourth part so they don’t sound like “chipmunks” when they sing fast songs.
    5. They should look at the tape of Janet Paschal’s group last year at NQC. It was balanced in ranges.
    6. It may sound sexist, but I can’t recall a woman’s trio in modern times that turned heads, maybe other than the Johnson sisters of years ago.
    Another group they should study is the Lennon sisters of years ago–listen to the sound and balance.

  50. Wade wrote:

    Riddle me that Batman, I mean Irish Laddy!!

    Blackstone, who could anybody that has Heather singing with them EVER sound like chipmunks???

    Pick any group you want that does not have Taranda Greene or David Phelps in them and I will show up with The Sisters as my team ANYTIME & WIN!!!

  51. Tad Kirkland wrote:

    #49 Blackstone, I think you may hit the nail on the head (or however that goes) with “Three women trying to woo a SG audience by not singing SG songs won’t get it either”!
    I love all kinds of music and very guilty of trying to push the envelope musically. It seems that most great singers tend to venture outside the SG market musically–Martins, Crabbs, Phelps, Taranda, etc and I love it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But wouldn’t it be great if a great group of singers put out some rockin’ southern gospel?! I know some of you quartet fanboys and girls think that’s already happening and there may be a few quartets that are close with 1 or 2 voices. But I’d love to hear a Martins or Sisters-quality group of voices do some great unadulterated southern gospel.

  52. Wade wrote:

    Tad… your comment remind me of a recent episode of Gene Simmons Family Jewels! Trace Adkins was giving advice to a band that Gene was working with who were trying to push the country music envelope too much.

    Trace told them they needed to “HICK IT UP a Little!!!”

    I LoL and thought some people in SGM need to hear some of that!! But not cause that is how I LIKE it but because that is what it takes to SELL!!!

    But STAND BY… I have a FEELING you will be seeing Sisters even more on Bill’s Videos!!! Wonder if there will be a Hot Tub in any of them!!! ;-)

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