What I wish southern gospel did more of

This … From a recent episode of the television show, Smash:

I hadn’t intended to post on this since it’s already made the rounds over at DBM’s site, but watching that Josh Lesomething kid on AI last night, I was reminded of this clip (which really should have included more of the first guy) and so I spirited it away on email to a friend and then got into a subsequent discussion with said friend about the clip … and well … here we are.

As my friend put in email:

If only southern gospel could deliver the gospel like that.

I think he was speaking in generalities (he’s the founding member of his own personal Singing Cookes and Gaither Fanboy club, so it’s not like he’s a gospel hater). But I take his point. No, really. I’m actually taking his point: I wish southern gospel did more of this.

By this I don’t mean necessarily the style of music here (though more of this style would be fine with me). One of the central points of my book, as well as this recent article, among other things I’ve written, is that “gospel” is not really a specific style. Rather, it’s a way of being musically, psychospiritually.

And so much of southern gospel just doesn’t have this way-of-beingness (see Quartet Convention comma the National … on any given night).

Part of the problem is that the relative cheapness of band tracks has made a singer songwriter out of every group, even though the number of bonafide actual sing-the-glory-down songwriters in southern gospel is not much more than it’s ever been. The only thing that’s increased is the number of plastic, uninspired and uninspiring songs that are the mercantile equivalent of what you go to the Dollar Store to find. We’ve talked about this before.

In turn, this relatively low cost to point-of-entry into “the industry” has effected a shift in the center of aspirational energy in southern gospel. We’ve talked about this too: Lots of people out giggin’ on the road in southern gospel are more interested in the delusion idea of themselves as a “pro” than on making music that manages to bring that great gettin’ up morning right down here among us.

This is, I gather, what folks mean when talk about southern gospel as a bidness full of folks who like the threadbare, hand-me-down, pass-along, down-in-the-teeth, gimp-along-money-suckin-1976-Silver-Eagle trappings of success than musical success itself. Less wordily, it’s the difference between being a performer and an artist. And finally, of course, the fairly permissive tastes of southern gospel audiences means there’s very little weeding out. Southern gospel fans are just as happy - nay, happier, much of the time - with delusional performers than expert artists.

There’s nothing to do about this, of course. It simply must be accepted whilst we wait for something good to come along and break up the benumbing mediocrity. But for me at least, when the good does come along, it’s still good enough to wait for, so that, even if I can’t stand the rest of it, I just try to stand.

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Comments

  1. RF wrote:

    Joshua Ledet is the real deal. Case closed, but it speaks volumes that the American people chose a worse voice over him to be in the final two. That’s a whole different story.

    I pretty much quit paying much attention three years ago. Nothing to see here. The demise of great groups like Gold City, the Kingsmen, and others sounded the death rattle. Even my church started that awful, terrible “praise music,” where you sing the same thing over and over ad nauseous. Know why? There were no longer any good songs. I still listen to the old stuff, but where is the good new stuff? What happened? Somewhere Mosie and Hovie are shaking their heads. And Joshua Ledet, in a different genre, understands. Good music is dead in this country and it’s sad.

  2. Janet B wrote:

    Ouch. I don’t believe that’s true, RF. There are still wonderful songs being created & performed with passion & heart. Maybe it depends on individual taste (I certainly don’t share the opinions of most sg bloggers - which I’m more than ok with). I know what moves me, or gives me something new to ponder, or leaves me grateful for His amazing grace.

    Recently - and off the top of my head - these songs made it to my “list”…Clean…Sometimes I Cry…That’s How Much I Need a Savior…Any Other Man (experienced in person is unbelievable).

    I agree that the state of church music is indeed sad. So many lovely hymns have been tossed aside…it’s a crime. One of my favorite songs to listen to right now is from the Tent Revival taping - I Stand Amazed. So moving & worshipful…and how many people out there no longer sing it?

    (By the way, Doug…I posted that Smash clip over on The Good Wife thread before DBM posted it. So see - you could’ve beat him to it!)

  3. KC wrote:

    I love when you quote me on this site.  Makes me feel special.  :)  I just have some observations.  And you’re right, I’m far from a southern gospel hater.  It’s just that when I go to NQC each year, I’m typically bored off my rocker the majority of the time.  Until the Gaithers take the stage, and then FINALLY there’s some real glorybump opportunities for me.  It’s because, while he is track heavy at times, he also incorporates live instruments.  Jason Crabb, also ALWAYS has a rockin’ sounding live band.  And look at how well he’s doing right now, winning Grammies and whatnot.  What could possibly help the industry, and help sort out all the mediocrity, would be for the groups that realize the magic that is involved in live performances with live bands, to focus more on employing quality musicians.  Signature Sound, while Ernie grates my nerves personally, at least he certainly knows how to deliver a successful quartet.  Remember The Kingsmen winning Favorite Band of the Year repeatedly back in the day - it’s because their band and vocals all worked together - Jim Hamill and Anthony Burger on stage together was pure genius.  When Stan Whitmire plays for Greater Vision, my attention doesn’t stray - when they go back to tracks, it’s snoozefest city for me.  When The Isaacs take the stage at a Gaither Homecoming, it’s ALWAYS magical.  So, in my opinion, until groups realize that what makes these Glee and Smash moments work on TV, it’s no different than back in the days of The Gospel Singing Jubilee - it was all live, baby!  Soundtracks are ridiculous.  (Yes, I know the Smash and Glee songs are prerecorded, but they still capture the magic I’m speaking of.)  Southern gospel is now nothing more than karaoke for the mostpart.  So thank God for Bill Gaither for preserving so much music via DVDs and VHSs.  At least I can always play those recordings for my fix on what I consider awesome southern gospel moments.  When I went to Vestal Goodman’s funeral, that entire event was mostly live music - it was like being lifted to Heaven with her.  Anyhoo - just wanted to elaborate - I still love southern gospel, in theory.  It’s just the crap you have to get through today to find the good moments is nauseating.  I miss the The Hinsons, The Hemphills, The Kingsmen, Gold City, etc., rolling into town with their live bands and good song selections - and less on idiotic politics and religious agendas that so many groups get into these days.  We know you dislike Obama; we don’t need a reminder; and it’s the GOSPEL - shouldn’t it focus on positive good energy.  It’ll most definitely sell to the masses way more than having Sarah Palin types come in to NQC to draw a crowd.  And I’ll say it again - the Gaither Kool-Aid has been the most refreshing thing in this entire industry in the last decade plus.  And David Phelps, when I’ve seen his solo concerts live - he also has all live music - and it’s amazing.  Can we just ban tracks and stacking and all that crap?  And one more thing, haha, look at the success of Adele - she doesn’t need a track to sound good - she just needs a pianist.  Magic thru live music and vocal talent, I tell you.  We need to get back to that anticipation of what a southern gospel group can deliver.  I’d love to see a Glee/Smash version of the Gospel Singing Jubilee come back - but you’re not allowed to show up to the TV set with tracks!  Mark Lowry should get in on it – his Broadway DVD proves he’s capable of such productions.  I’m done now.  Apologies for the rambling to multiple topics.  Peace out. :)

  4. quartet-man wrote:

    #2 I saw it here from you first too. Doug’s missing it here is due to the interns doing the moderation here. :D

  5. quartet-man wrote:

    I would love to hear Greater Vision of today do this one today with Whitmire. Allman today could really nail this I suspect.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUS1fReDv94

  6. RF wrote:

    Janet: it’s more than the songs with great meaning, it’s the presentation that’s missing. KC is right and it probably has a lot to do with the money. SG has always been cash strapped. When thing went south (and the did go south), the bands disappeared. Only Billy Gaither could afford a band. And EHSSQ. And then there’s the politics. Turns me off. Nothing makes me want to walk out faster than Gerald Wolfe or some other artist to get political “in the name of God.”. Like KC said, we know where you stand, but don’t beat me over the head with it.

    I sometimes think all the good voices, well, some of them left the biz because they couldn’t feed their families, but is that any reason to churn out music “with a great message” that people refuse to buy because it’s boring? And it gets worse in person. Presentation and enthusiasm is everything. And so it goes. Keep on preaching the gospel of Republicanism and use tracks and you assure the death of this genre.

  7. irishlad wrote:

    Drat and double drat i can’t even watch it here!

  8. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    To #1 and #3: Amen and Amen! I completely agree.

    To add my two cents worth……..

    Substituting the live music for the canned music has been a huge mistake for Southern Gospel. No matter how you try to justify it, it’s just not the same.

    I remember all of the groups who came to our church……Hinsons, Rambos, Florida Boys, Hemphills, Masters V, etc. The older groups and quartets with the live band not only had the extra “umph” because of the live band, but they also had a different charisma and stage presence that they brought to the table.

    Today’s performers are mostly bland. It’s the same way in secular music, whether it’s country, rock or pop. The performers of yesteryear are much better entertainers than what we are seeing today. Something has happened. Something got lost in the mix of things. Quality is not in demand anymore.

    So much that we see today in SG feels hokey. The silly jokes, the “beggar on the bus” routine during offering time, the same melodies, the same-sounding soundtracks…..all of it sounds amateurish and not professional. Like I’ve said before, it’s the one reason I listen to Bluegrass. I like the purity of the music. I prefer to hear voices and instruments, not the blasting and tinging of a muffled sound system.

    Unfortunately, we don’t hear anything like this anymore. If you do, you have to go to the Grand ‘Ole Opry in Nashville…..and wait for the older stars to start singing……..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp8SFq89AgE&feature=fvst

  9. BackwoodsPhilosopher wrote:

    Here’s another Rambo Golden Oldie. This one is a treasure:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgcySiJjpN4&feature=related

    Even the songwriting of yesterday had more content than what we hear today. ……and to think how many churches have tossed the great hymns of the church by the wayside…….(are people completely opposed to content and quality?)

  10. Concerned fan wrote:

    I wish groups that are starting out and trying to get a crowd by using the popularity of national artists would be respectful enough to pay them for coming. See below:
    http://m.topix.com/forum/city/london-ky/TQNUI1T7GR42T0V85

  11. quartet-man wrote:

    #8 BP, I believe you meant substituting the canned music for the live music. :D I remember a post elsewhere where Michael Booth said something to the effect that having a band didn’t increase the Booth Brothers’ draw (I believe both amount of people or income) and that fans really didn’t seem to care either way. They seemed to like the tracks just as well. He did clarify that if it were an eternal type thing he would do it even if it meant he had to do without himself, but otherwise something like he had to think about spending money that God had entrusted them in the best way and couldn’t justify the expense.

    Perhaps people these days are used to the tracks. I would love a group with a good band, but there are times that songs needs tracks too. So many are orchestrated these days. Not all need to be and some versions say the Cathedrals did with just piano and bass beat the tracks with orchestration, but other songs like “Champion of Love”, “Sinner Saved By Grace” and “Death Has Died” needed them I think.

  12. Tom wrote:

    I don’t know if it would work or not, but sometimes I wonder if sg doesn’t need to align it’s live concert practices more closely to those of other musical genres. Instead of being “full-time” ministers on the road 48 weeks out of the year, why don’t they set aside a couple of months for a “tour”? They could hit the various corners of the sg geographical world only once a year, they could bundle two or three groups into the tour so as to attract more attention (and thus more ticket sales), and then charge for tickets accordingly. The question remains, though, whether or not sg audiences would fork over $40 for tickets to see three really top-of-the-line groups. If it were the only chance to see them during the year, though, perhaps it might work? But I’m probably only dreaming about the likelihood that sg fans would part with money to enjoy something really good instead of go cheap and get only mediocre….

    That would probably mean that these “artistes” might need to land real jobs that they could work the rest of the year when they’re not on tour. But they would probably earn more stable incomes from the other jobs. Group expenses should be lower. Rather than needing to own a bus with all of the expenses that entails, and also pay for lots of diesel every single week, they could rent/lease during the tour and only need to pay for fuel to criss-cross the country once a year rather than once a month. They might be away from home for longer periods of time while on tour, but could be home with families for the majority of the year without having to go away every weekend. Hopefully this would enable more satisfactory family lives as well.

    For me, the live band is what really seals the deal. I know I’m not the typical sg fan. But I prefer to see local “amateur” groups with a live band who sing for fun rather than a living, and sing only on Sundays in church services in their own region, than to go see a big name group singing to tracks. Unless it’s the Perrys, of course.

  13. irishlad wrote:

    CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP!!… the world in general?…NO! just the EH&SS last night..the biggest waste of £19.50($25) ever. :(

  14. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    #13 I thought you liked EHSS. What did they do differently?

  15. Wade wrote:

    omg irishdude I am with Brooke again… put down the whiskey and tell us a bout it!!! Do you part as a contributor to this FORUM!!!

  16. irishlad wrote:

    15…funny enough i hit the whiskey at half-time and it didn’t improve me or the show! even Ian didn’t inspire and that takes a lot coming from me!

  17. Wade wrote:

    irishdude… DETAILS… DETAILS don’t make me let Brooke loose on ya!!!!

  18. Ode wrote:

    15~Wade, Ilad offered a great combo: “Blorum”, with R as a trademark(rating) sign. Stylish logo, but considering AFL reputation is as bad as the back of a SG band’s bus, some of Doug’s enemies will quickly point out the suggestive “Blo”, let alone “Rum”, clearly the tools of Satan that Doug and his evil readers impose on innocent eyes of …etc. :D

    Maybe Flog? It evokes the memories of old Christian Church’s punitive traditions, simultaneously hinting at sadomasochism that modern gospel singing so very often is

    1~RF, exactly like the movie industry, that now relies on cheap tricks and digital effects to produce more flashy garbage. But I wouldn’t generalize too much and dismiss all songs as bad. There are still some masterpieces being made, we just have to dig ‘em out from a bigger pile.

  19. NG wrote:

    #16: Surprised they were selling booze at a gospel concert but then again you might have had your own flask in case of an emergency. In any case, would appreciate more details on the concert (at least from the first half if you’re having trouble recalling the second.)

  20. Auke wrote:

    I sing in a SG trio, and because none of play the piano well enough we are bound to use tracks…in The Netherlands Southern Gospel is on life support for decades, when Gaither started doing them videos, the paitient was on the rebound for a short while…but now we’re slipping in a coma. P&W music is dominant here..SGM isn’t in our blood (culture) and it’s frowned upon for being too country (i.e. too simple). There are not a lot of pianoplayers,pickers, bassplayers..that know the music well enough to form a live band to back us up. It’s our prayer/desire that someone will cross our path and joins us. But we love singing, and we do some with just piano…mostly to close our set. Here’s one we do… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQK3YSycwCg.

    Bottomline is that we trade in all the canned stuff for a pianoplayer only..but we can’t find one. Any of u guys wanna emigrate to The Netherlands?

  21. irishlad wrote:

    right everyone… i only heard today that a new sound system was in place in the church and i think that was a good part of the problem..it was far too loud, plus the fact that the empty seats had an effect on the general atmosphere..Ernie seemed to be struggling to convince everyone what a great time everyone was having.
    Yes NG.. no booze on sale :) blame the hip-flask.

  22. irishlad wrote:

    i wish phil boles would chip in here as far as i’m aware he was there.

  23. weber wrote:

    #20 all the reasons to give up your gospel group you mentioned in your post, staring you in the face so to speak..
    1. Tracks Only
    2. No support
    3. Most of it has become country, most of the songs are written on a six grade level.
    4. Gaither.
    I hope this helps :-)

  24. Wade wrote:

    irishdude you are about to piss ode off if you do not give us more details!!! You do not want to piss her off!!! Come on… write IT!!! I did the last time I went to see them!!! PUT OUT NOW!!!!

  25. Wade wrote:

    ODe… you better get it (R) before some of the other REAL BORING Blogs that sent around an blow each other among 4-5 of them gets it!!!

  26. irishlad wrote:

    24 Wadey i wouldn’t annoy Ode for the world..i really can’t remember, i may have to retract my statement about EHSS unless someone else who was there comes to my aid. living in hope! :)

  27. irishlad wrote:

    8 Re: New Shoes..does that piano player love himself or what! hahahha hilarious

  28. Auke wrote:

    #23 Yes it’s been staring us in the face for years, but we’re not quitting…we love the music (artform) too much, and we are a parttime group, we usually play 1 or 2 times a month. We couldn’t really handle more than that because of our dayjobs anyway. But we all are aware of the fact that tracks add to the cheese-factor…and we would trade all them for a real musician in a heart beat, but we don’t really have a choice….maybe groups in ur neck of the woods don;t have that choice either. We talked about goin through as a A Cappella outfit…but we feel too limited doing that. SGM sure is complex in it’s simplicity ;)

  29. irishlad wrote:

    28 i must say i enjoyed your clip

  30. Kathy wrote:

    I certainly enjoy hearing The Dove Brothers Band and think they do a great job!
    just sayin’

  31. Auke wrote:

    Irishlad…see? even mediocre singers, with a bad piano player are enjoyable…..compared to superb singers with tracks! Thanks tho!

  32. quartet-man wrote:

    Speaking of great, live, music; Wade, I’m surprised you haven’t commented over here: http://burkesbrainwork.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/classics-corner-oak-ridge-boys-performance/

  33. CVH wrote:

    I think Tom (#12) has some interesting points but his question as to whether fans would pay $40 to see a couple of top groups gets to the heart of the matter. The business models for secular music and southern gospel are vastly different; from venues to touring schedules, riders and backlines to standards of professionalism there is no comparison. The Gaither World Domination Tour would be the big exception.

    Part of the gap can be attributed to expectations. The average southern gospel fan goes to a mid-level venue like a church or school auditorium; no program, no ushers, no refreshments. They spend the first 20 minutes adjusting to the changes being made to the sound-the mix, relative levels, etc. They hear some of their favorite songs, endure the over-milked encores and the labored product pitches. Following intermission there’s another 45 minute segment and maybe an encore or two (so predictable they’re really part of the concert). Whether this is ministry or entertainment or a mix of the two is irrelevant. No matter how much ‘value’ southern gospel consumers put on the experience, they resist paying what would otherwise be fair market rates because there’s a sense of entitlement, of being part of the ‘tribe’. If it came down to $25 to $50 a ticket in order for a group to carry a live band, professional sound and lights and put on a show comparable to their secular counterparts the loudest sound you’d hear in the hall would be the crickets.

    I grew up going to concerts; I took my kids to concerts; and now I take my grandkids to concerts. Overall probably 75% secular and 25% religious. Whether it’s “The Nutcracker” or “Seussical” for the kids, Celtic Woman or Tim McGraw for my wife or Diana Krall or TSO for me, paying $60 to $100 bucks a ticket is the norm-no big deal. My expectation is higher not only because I’m paying a higher ticket price but because I know everything about the performance is well-planned, skillfully executed and driven by standards that are probably higher than the typical SG group is capable of producing on a daily basis.

    On average I think EHSS, Greater Vision, the Hoppers and L5 do a consistently good job. But they’re the exception, not the norm. And I don’t see anything in the business, consumer habits or the economy that would bring about change anytime soon.

    Now you’ll have to pardon me - Aunt Blabby is holding my place in line at the product table.

  34. Wade wrote:

    CVH… Well said… but think they scream if the back line is not good!! LoL;-)) But I know what ya mean!!! They do like to hear themselves on the monitors. I have actually ran the monitors hotter than the house feed and they were still wanting more!!! Had to turned down the house to let them hear how hot it was and get them to shut up!!! The ones that now actually have accompaniment instruments usually have their OWN part of the back line they need!!!

    So ya don’t go see Carrie Underwood?!?!? That girl is one of the few who always sounds good on the award shows when they have some TV dumbass running sound, because THAT GIRL CAN REALLY SING!!!

  35. cynical one wrote:

    I think part of the reason people won’t pay a decent ticket price for any sgm (other than Gaither) is that the groups go to the same areas 4-6 times each year, and half the time, it’s free-will offerings. Why would ANYone pay $20-30. for a ticket, when the same groups will be back next month for free?

    Plus, we have all the local-yokels (and I’ve been part of that) who’ll do half-way decent (or worse) job for little-or-nothing in the offering, watering down the market. Even though there are bar bands in other genre, there really isn’t as much competition for the entertainment dollars, as there is in sgm, IMHO.

  36. Wade wrote:

    Cynical is correct… booking a SGM Concert is like the ole hearding cats thing.

    I booked a concert on time with 3 major groups with NICE FLATS!!! Put much effort into the event of course.

    As I was driving down the road one day listening for the ads I had PAID for on the SGM Voice of the Mid West I heard THE CONCERT Scene segment and one of my groups where coming to a church the next month and they were publicizing it!!

    From then on out I wrote in the rider they could not be with in 100 miles for 60 days before or after or be subject to penalty of 1/2 their flat!!!

    The booking agents for these groups are right up their with lawyers & used car sales people!!! They will tell anybody anything to get a date!!

    I’ve LOST money on 3 secular dates I have done in the last 2 years. SGM concerts are about 50/50!!!

    If you book a SGM concert you should be in a financial position to pay all your expenses and get no money from the door!!! GET EVERY THING IN WRITING!! or expect to hear from Russ!!!

  37. irishlad wrote:

    the above are all the reasons why Ernie and the boys failed to inspire that night, they were predictable, somewhat mediocre…basically I’d heard it all before from them..only much, much better..I won’t be back in a hurry and neither will my friend who hadn’t heard them before. Btw it didn’t cost him anything , I got the ticket…just as well !

  38. CVH wrote:

    Wade, I hear you…”MORE monitor!!!” I’ve had people in the front of the house complain about volume and it’s the monitors they’re freaking about not the mains. Crazy…and you’re right about having a radius clause…gotta protect your investment. I always mention in passing that I have friends in New Jersey in the concrete business…

    cynical, agreed. Good points. Groups cannibilize the market, a scortched earth approach.

    Oh, Wade, big ‘yes’ on Carrie U. She’s the real deal.

  39. Kathy wrote:

    Heard The Dove Brothers and that great Dove Brothers Band this weekend! Wow!
    Nothing mediocre about what I heard!
    Simply great!

  40. Wade wrote:

    Thanks to a VERY SPECIAL Friend who sent me MP3′s of The Oaks Performance mentioned above!!!

    The person is rather well known in the biz but wants to stay anonymous here!!! They inboxed my facebook account for an email address and I had them in just a few minutes!!!

    As a good SHARER I will pas them along to anybody who inboxes me at facebook account or loandr4u@yahoo.com!!!

    The person did say that irishdude needed them because of his taste or lack of in music!!! lolol :-) ;-)

    THANKS AGAIN!!!

  41. Lawson wrote:

    I have grown up in southern gospel music all of my young life. In my childhood i remember being in awe of the Cathedrals for starters. It is sad to me to see an artform which I believe for certain in southern evangelical america and various other places around the world has done more for the kingdom of God musically than any other style. That’s not a knock on anybody else’s music, that’s just what I believe. I personally could give you multiple reasons I think southern gospel in most cases has become a joke.
    The most obvious reasons are soundtracks. Somebody is going to say I feel this way because i am a piano player; but I hate soundtracks in most cases. In a church service where you may not always have versatile quality musicians, soundtracks are permissable; the quartet world is completely different. You have how many good musicians who could and would go on the road with you and you don’t take advantage of it. When you have no live instramentation you lose a sort of intamacy with the audience. Karaoke is a good word to use for it, because in essence that’s what it is.
    I think that another reason is groups have gotten away from convention music. Here me out on this one: I’m not talking about Dad Speer or Harold Lane songs from years ago. Unbeknownst to most southern gospel fans, convention music still exists where people will take a new book full of new songs and sight read them just like they would have then, usually with just the piano. Of course it helps when you have the unmistakeable director/accompianist duo of Tom Powell and Tracey Phillips.
    Anyway, the reason I bring up convention music is because of what it and its music schools (and there are other good ones besides stamps baxter) taught you. You learned how to read music, you learned rudimentary piano skills, you learned vocal technique, and you learned how to right down your own melodys and right the harmony around it. Sad to say that 8 or 9 o every 10 people making a living in southern gospel can do none of the above. And it’s a shame to me. You think of some of the great singers in gospel music who had terrible technique and either had vocal problems or are now out of the industry (particularly tenors). Danny Funderburk, David Sutton, Ernie Haase (although he has gotten better since he’s been traveling with Wayne Haun, Genius), just to name a few. Wheras the “old souls” like George, Glen, Jake, Vestal could all read music and had technique, and they lasted for how long?
    I have a true story to support my thesis. Tom Powell was at one of the early Gaither Videos when the chior got to the song “Sing Your Blues Away.” With all the syncopation everybody was singing it differently. Bill informed them they needed to find one way to do it, and Tom makes this statement that’s so true : “I hate to settle for mediocrity in our music. If we’re gonna do it, let’s do it right.” Knowing Tom was a music teacher, Bill asked Tom to fix it. He got up and had them do a simple exercise we do at music school: speak the words in rhythm, no pitches. in minutes the song was ready to go. Case closed.
    My other concern is that the music is becoming to commercial (somehow). Too many songs and groups are coming together for sake of income. As Brian Free once said, if you’re not in the industry for the ultimate purpose of ministry, get out. I believe musicallity, BEING our artform is important, but I also believe it must be done with the right heart and the right motive. All three of these must be in tact for this music to work. That’s what made groups like the Cathderals and the Goodmans great (even though Vestal changed the alto lead on “Living in Caanan Now” completely). God and the spreading of his gospel must be the priority, and if we’re gonna do anything for God, we can never settle with anything but our very best. It is only then God can truly be honored and glorified. Psalm 33:3. God bless

  42. OklahomaGospelSinger wrote:

    I was just reading this forum and had a few things to add/ask? I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and all the big SG bands used to come to Oral Roberts’ Mabee Center such as The Hinsons, Goodmans, Arnolds, Gaithers, etc. and as I remember, it was one huge lineup of all the popular bands at one time and they all had live band members and it was awesome! I find myself going to local concerts now (The McKamey’s most recently) and they sang with tracks and it does definitely lack the energy and realism that the old groups had! Granted, The McKamey’s were still really good, but it just felt a little detached or lacking something. Now, it was a love offering concert so it is hard to gripe about that type of concert at a church venue, but still left some to be desired as far as the music. My question is this though. I understand that SG music has gone downhill once the great older bands went away and it is hard to stay on the road and pay a full band to travel, but don’t you think that with the increase and perfection of technology, that the music is as good or better than the quality we got back in the 70’s and 80’s with the live bands? They were basically all analog sound back then and now we are digital so I think the quality and sound of the music is superior to what we used to have short of not having live band members and making it seem sort of generic. We had The Bowling Family at our church last February and they were pretty reasonable as far as price went, but still had three members on stage, one piano player, one guy running the computer and lights, and the bus driver. They were dynamic as far as their sound and abilities go! I won’t disclose what we paid them, but based on that amount, they cannot afford to travel the country, pay expenses, and the salaries of any other members or they would all go broke. I roughly figured after gas for the bus, they probably all only made about $300-400 apiece. Now granted, they do 4 or 5 shows a week which rounds out to about $2000 a week per person which isn’t terrible, but if they had to pay four of five more people to have a live band like they used to have, it would drop to about $400-500 per week for all of them which doesn’t make sense! I absolutely agree that this is a ministry and should be for the glorification of God, but this is also their living. I am trying to get a bus and form a band right now, and these are definitely things to consider. Unless you have an awesome band that can travel for almost nothing full time, then computers or tracks are the only way a band in this generation can go. What makes me sick, is that if you tried to book Aerosmith, Garth Brooks, or George Strait, you would probably have to slap down around $50,000-100,000 plus a cut of ticket sales to even get them to talk to you. Something is definitely wrong with the direction this country has gone and it is sad to see some great gospel groups struggling so much to make it. When you see them show up in a $500,000-1,000,000 bus, it may not seem like they are struggling, but I used to travel around the Midwest in a group with a pickup truck and travel trailer in the early 80’s and it is a tough life being on the road most of the year especially without decent vehicle and sleeping arrangements so I hold absolutely no grudges or ill feelings towards them having the nicest bus that God will provide them. Anyways, I have enjoyed all of your posts and hope this one wasn’t too long!

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