Southern Gospel Perspective

My thoughts and opinions about Southern Gospel Music, both past and present. Feel free to comment and criticize...

Location: United States


Christmas Music

When is the right time for Southern Gospel radio to start playing Christmas music?

Obviously, there is no answer to this question. Every listener will have a different opinion. Some will say never and some will say before Thanksgiving, others will be somewhere in between. My personal opinion is to start sometime after Thanksgiving. That way the Christmas celebration doesn't overtake the Thanksgiving holiday.

Should Southern Gospel radio play secular Christmas music?

Again, that decision is best made by the programming department at the station. I personally don't see anything wrong with throwing in a Bing Crosby or Burl Ives every once in a while. I would probably not play pop or rock stars, though.

Is the quality of Southern Gospel Christmas recordings "up to par"?

The answer to that question depends on what recordings we are talking about. I think there are many SG Christmas recordings that are as good as any, anywhere.

Gold City has several Christmas CD's that are top notch. The Cathedral A Capella CD from years ago is a brilliant recording. The Gaither Vocal Band's "Still The Greatest Story" is an exceptional recording.

So there are some SG Christmas recordings that are very good. These CD's I've mentioned (and many others I will get into later in the Christmas season) will stand the test of time and be considered classics.

Should SG artists record "classic" Christmas music or all new material?

I think the answer to that is a balance of the two. I definitely enjoy hearing the classics of the season sung by my favorite artists. I also enjoy hearing a new song or two thrown in as well. Probably something like a 70-30 split would be good.

Finally, I would like to say that I think SG Christmas CD's should contain more material. It seems that a lot of these recordings only have 7 or 8 songs. This, to me, is shortchanging the fan and consumer. So all you SG artists, when you record your next Christmas CD, put 12 to 15 songs on there! Come on, you know the songs already!


Under-appreciated (Part 4)

First, I want to apologize for the several day absence from writing. I have been extremely busy at work and then the Holidays were hectic as well. Hopefully things will start coming more regularly now...

Today's list I've come up with five under-appreciated tenor singers. These may or may not be the best in the business, but they are overlooked in my opinion.

David Sutton. David is doing a great job singing tenor for Integrity (Triumphant, won't go there again). He was with The Kingdom Heirs for several years before that. David can sing just about anything and it sounds great. He is good at fast songs and slow songs. His talent only seems to be matched by his heart.

Robbie Hiner. Robbie is a very talented vocalist. His tenure with The Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet gets him in front of a lot of fans, but perhaps not the typical SG fan as much. Robbie is not only a good tenor, but just a plain good singer.

Harold Reed. Harold has been a GREAT addition to The Florida Boys. I will be the first to admit that I was not a huge fan of his with The Dixie Melody Boys. I also cannot honestly tell you why. But now that he is with TFB, he fits them to a T! He sounds as good as any tenor traveling right now and that is no exaggeration.

Steve Ladd. Steve is now with The Gold City Quartet, so perhaps his much-deserved recognition is on its way. Steve has been a very good SG tenor for several years with The Anchormen. I think GC did a great job in choosing Steve, they will not miss a step.

Eric Phillips. Eric is singing tenor with The Mark Trammell Trio. Before that, he spent some time with The Melody Masters Quartet. Eric is following in his father's footsteps (Ernie sang tenor with The "Mighty" Kingsmen Quartet for a time) as an extremely talented SG tenor. Eric is as natural a tenor as I think I've ever heard. I know he is very young, but his future in SG is VERY bright!

That's my list, do you have some you would add? Let's hear it.


Under-appreciated (Part 3)

Today I want to write about the ladies. The soprano position:

Charlotte Ritchie. Charlotte is one of the very best female singers to come around in a long time. She can flat out sing. From the hitting the high notes to blending beautifully, she is simply awesome. Come on Jeff and Sheri, give Charlotte some more solos!

Janet Haas. Janet is the soprano for The Hayes Family. She is also the piano player. Janet has a tremendous voice and is an all-around talented lady!

Connie Fortner. This soprano for the McKameys is a super vocalist who does not get near the recognition she deserves. She is sometimes in the shadow of Peg and so doesn't stand out as much as she should. Her voice is the real strength of this group.

Amber Thompson. This young lady can't miss. Both her parents are very talented and she might be the best of the three. Amber is going to end up being one the all-time greats in SG, if she decides to continue with her singing career.

Trecia Cisneros. Trecia is the soprano for The Lesters. She too is an up-and-coming singer in the SG business. Although she is super already, I don't think she has even touched the tip of her awesome talent. Trecia is probably under-appreciated mostly because she sings in an under-appreciated group. The Lesters and Trecia are more than worth the price of admission! Go see them if they are near you.

That is it for the sopranos. I know I've left many off; I made a short list. These are some of the ones I see as deserving more attention than they currently get.


Gaither Vocal Band is a trio?

What IS the deal with everyone saying that the GVB is a trio? Why do people not give credit to Bill for his bass singing?

First of all, a SG quartet consists of four (4) parts: They are first tenor, second tenor (lead), baritone, and bass. When there are 4 individuals singing some combination of those parts, that is a quartet. (Quartet is by definition: a musical composition for four instruments or voices) By this definition, the GVB is a quartet.

Bill's bass singing might not be the lowest (not everyone can be the lowest). Bill might not be the very best bass singer in SG ( he's very good, IMHO though). But Bill DOES most certainly sing the bass notes and bass part for the GVB.

If the argument is the GVB is too contemporary to be SG, then that argument has more validity. I don't agree with it, but it can at least be considered a matter of opinion. The previous argument cannot. Is GVB more progressive than a lot of SG quartets? Sure, but just because they are more progressive, doesn't mean they are not still SG.

If you think of it as a scale where the very most traditional quartet (maybe Palmetto State) is on one end, then GVB would probably be at the other. However, they ARE still on the scale.

Those are my opinions on the subject. What do you think?


Under-appreciated (Part 2)

Moving over one spot, I mention some under-appreciated baritone singers:

Doug Anderson. The baritone for EH&SS is one of the finest young singers (or singers of any age for that matter) on the road today. Doug has the potential to go down as one of the all-time greats.

Glen Allred. The long-time baritone from The Florida Boys is much-loved and respected, but still probably doesn't get the credit he deserves. He's been with TFB for over 50 years (with just a short stint as a cabinet maker) and just gets better with age!

Daniel Riley. Although a relative newcomer to the baritone position, Daniel is without a doubt one of the great singers of our time. He can deliver a song with a lot of feeling and yet blow the doors off, too.

Mark Lanier. Probably best known for his time with Perfect Heart, Mark is now singing baritone for Poet Voices. Mark is a great blending baritone as well as a terrific soloist. It's very good to have him back singing with a group!

Tony Peace. I know, he's leaving PSQ... However, I'm hoping he will "pop up" somewhere new before too long. Tony is very under-appreciated and it is hard to understand why! He is a terrific singer and has a great stage presence. He will be missed with PSQ, but he would make any group he joined instantly better.

That's it for baritones. Again not my list of the best (necessarily), but those that I see as under-appreciated.


Under-appreciated (Part 1)

I am of the opinion that there are no SG artists that are "over-appreciated". These men and women get far too little recognition for the job they are doing in God's Kingdom. Compared to the attention-craving secular music world, none of our artists are "over-appreciated" and each of them deserve every bit of recognition they receive.

Now some artists do get more attention than others, that is natural. Today I would like to list some artists who I think are grossly under-appreciated. I will start with quartets and the lead singer:

Loren Harris. I know he's not in an all-male quartet, but he is without a doubt one of the finest lead singers in the business. Hopefully some of the well-deserved accolades that are coming the Perry's way will spill over to Loren as well.

Kerry Beatty. Kerry is everything a lead singer in a quartet should be. Again, with the great things happening with PSQ, hopefully Kerry will begin to get the recognition he deserves.

Dean Hopper. Another lead singer in a mixed quartet. Dean is multi-talented and adds more than just his vocal ability to the Hoppers, he doesn't seem to be recognized as the truly great vocal talent that he is. Definitely an under-appreciated lead singer.

Josh Garner. Les Beasley has always been one of my favorite SG personalities. He is a great quartet man and owner. It must have taken a lot of humility to recognize that he needed to step away from the lead singer position and hire someone else. When he chose Josh Garner, he chose an immensely talented vocalist. Josh is the perfect lead singer for this wonderful quartet. I expect even greater things for Josh in the future.

Randy Shelnut. Last but certainly not least. Randy is following in the footsteps of a true legend, his father Dale. Randy is more than up to the task, though. He is an extremely talented vocalist and a great all-around musician.

Please don't think I'm saying these are the only under-appreciated leads. I'm not. These are just a few that I notice and wanted to point out. Also, there are many leads who are extremely talented and are getting recognition within the SG industry (J. Wilburn, G. Wolfe, etc.).


This and That

Glad to hear that Les Beasley is continuing to recover from his heart surgery.

The latest news from Roger Bennett sounds like he is in less pain, his counts are down, and his fever remains down as well. Very glad to hear this and hope everyone continues to pray for Roger and his family.

XM radio and SG: First it sounded like great news that SG was coming to XM satellite. However, upon closer inspection (DMB), it may only be available over the internet. Hopefully, we will someday be able to enjoy a high quality SG station via satellite radio!

Glad to welcome McCray Dove and the DBQ to the blog world! Can't wait to read your posts, guys.

'Til Next time...


Problems in Southern Gospel (Part 2)

2. Too many groups.

That statement can be read by 10 people and get 10 different interpretations. What I mean is there are too many Southern Gospel groups who are out there trying to be full-time ministries.

For one thing, it waters down the talent pool. Nearly every full-time group has AT LEAST one very talented vocalist. This person is many times a former member of a "big time" SG group who wanted to go out and start their own group. I can certainly understand that. They feel like they can go in the direction they want and also have more control over their finances. This may be true, but the problem comes in when they find the other members of their "new" group. In very few cases is the entire team good enough to be making their living singing. Even if they do have the singing talent, they don't have the life experience and know-how to survive on this talent alone.

Another problem with so many full-time groups is that we get a WIDE diversity of talent. The best groups (Gold City, Hoppers, etc.) are so much better than the average or low-end groups that the audience expectations at a concert (or on radio) can be dropped greatly when they hear one of these lesser quality groups. This causes all the groups to be lumped into this one mediocre category, when in fact many groups in the SG industry are as talented or more talented than the groups of ANY OTHER MUSICAL GENRE!

Finally, another problem with so many full-time groups is the saturation of the SG market. This in turn causes many groups to struggle financially. They are all competing for the same audience and the same venues. If a promoter can get one group cheaper than perhaps a more talented but also more expensive group, many times the promoter will go the cheaper option. This hurts the fans, hurts the perception of the genre, and hurts the more talented groups financially.

Hopefully no one will read this and think I have anything against part-time groups. That is NOT at all what I'm talking about. I truly believe that many, many part-time groups are more talented than some of these full-time groups.

Agree or disagree? These are just my opinions. What are yours?


Roger Bennett

The only thing I feel that needs to be said today is prayer for Roger.

Read the post from Debbie, but Roger's situation seems dire and he and his family could really use all our prayers today and from now on.

God answers prayer, so please take a moment and pray for Roger.

Thank you.


Saturday Opinions (Take 2)

Continuing my Saturday Opinions column, here are more of my favorite things.

My favorite magazine: The Singing News

My favorite all-time favorite mixed group: The Speer Family

My favorite trio: Greater Vision! These guys are the best!

My favorite songwriter: Currently it is, you guessed it, Rodney Griffin of Greater Vision. His songs really speak to me. He puts a new twist on things we've all read and studied our entire lives.

My favorite book: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

Keep checking back if you're still interested ...


What's to like about Southern Gospel

Before I start today's rant, I want to say how glad I was to hear Les Beasley of The Florida Boys came thru his surgery so well. The prayers of the Righteous availeth much!

What is there to like about Southern Gospel Music?

First of all, I LOVE Southern Gospel Music! There is no other form of music out there like it.

The harmony: I'm slightly partial to male quartets, but good trios, mixed quartets, etc. with great harmony really get me going as well. I could start listing groups, but there are so many great ones I would inevitably leave some off. If you want to see a great list of quartets, see David Bruce Murray's list for a great starting point. I might not agree with his order exactly, but he has some good ones!

The accessibility of the artists: For the most part fans of other genres are not as lucky as we are in SG. We can go to a concert and before or after get a chance to mingle and converse with our favorite artists. This is something that should not be taken for granted.

The sheer number of concerts: We as SG fans are blessed to have our favorite artists traveling 250+ dates a year. We in the Southeastern US can see/hear a live concert nearly every week if we want. Some might claim this also as a detriment because of saturation of the market, but for the fan it can be nothing but a blessing.

The Message: Last in my list, but by far the most important, is the message in the music we sing. The Good News of the Gospel of Christ in song! This message is one that needs to get out to the people of this sinful world. (Our methods for spreading this message might be improved, but that's a different article.) There has never been a time when I couldn't go to my CD collection and find a song that would lift my spirits. Also, when I'm happy the music makes my spirit soar to even greater heights.

Those are some of the things I like (LOVE) about Southern Gospel. What about you?



The fine folks over at SGBlogNews informed me they were unable to make comments here.

If you are having the same problem, please notice the hyperlink beneath the login boxes that allows you to "Post anonymously". This should work without having to register.

Step by step: Click the "Comments" link below the post you want to comment on. At the bottom of that page click the "Post a comment" link. Then click the "Post anonymously" link below the login boxes.


Problems in Southern Gospel (Part 1)

As I see it, there are several issues in Southern Gospel music that keep it from being all that it could be. I will start with one issue today:

1. Radio. Plain and simple, Southern Gospel Radio is poor at best. I travel quite a bit and I've heard many stations across the Southeasten US. For the most part, they are terrible.

I hear DJ's who know nothing at all about the genre. They mispronounce group names, talk about group members who have left years before, and claim to know nothing about groups that have been around for decades.

Very seldom do you hear the name of the song or the name of the artist identified. To me, this is basic. If our genre is to grow, the audience NEEDS to know group names so they can go out and buy material they hear and enjoy!

Too many radio stations claim to be Southern Gospel when they are in fact mainly a preaching/Christian programming station. There is nothing wrong with being a preaching station, but please don't call yourself an SG station when you play 2 hours of SG per day. If you are an SG station, then play Southern Gospel music.

Song selection is also dreadful in most cases. The station I pick up best at home never plays a current song! Their playlist is at least a year old, many times older.

Other stations throw in huge amounts of local talent. While this might seem admirable, it only hurts the genre. Suppose a listener was scanning their car stereo and came across the "Paw and Maw Quartet" singing "The Skunk Run Up My Driveway"? Do you think that is going to leave a good impression of Southern Gospel music on them? NO! On the other hand, what if they heard "The Talley Trio" singing "His Life For Mine"? They might stop and listen and even come back later to hear what else is playing.

Lest you think I only see the negative, I would like to brag on a few stations. Solid Gospel out of Nashville, SGLive365, and All Quartets Radio are all very good stations. There are other good ones out there too. Just the poor ones seem to outnumber them so badly.

That's my take and opinion. Do you agree or disagree?


First, I want to apologize for no postings yesterday. I was up nearly all night (and morning) following the election returns and then work yesterday was very hectic.

I was very disappointed to hear that Tony Peace will be leaving Palmetto State Quartet! That is a tough blow and he will be greatly missed. Hopefully he will pop up somewhere else in the future! Meanwhile PSQ will find someone great to replace him, I'm sure!

Please pray for Rick Strickland and his family as his father, Mr. Moody Strickland, passed away. See Singing News for details...

Also, please pray for Les Beasley as he undergoes heart surgery today. See Singing News link above for more details there as well.

Finally, a congratulations to President Bush on his re-election. We should all pray for him as well, so that God will give him guidance in these next 4 years to lead this country in the way He sees fit.



I just want to reiterate what I said yesterday.

Today is election day in the U.S. Go Vote!

Don't put it off, do it now!


Comeback Blogging

I don't want my blog site to become a continual conversation with other bloggers. I appreciate all of them and try to read as much as I can.

With that said, I want to address a blog called Johns Jottings. The author is John Rulapaugh, the tenor for The Palmetto State Quartet. John is very entertaining to read and right on the money with his commentary.

John doesn't need me to defend him, but another blogger out there seems to like to attack John. I just couldn't let that attack go unchallenged.

I for one do not find John's opinions preposterous or malevolently disgusting. It just seems to me like we could find a way to disagree with someone without resorting to hyperbole and scathing attacks.

Keep posting John, many of us know you are not distorting the truth. Just telling it!

Christianity and Politics

Well, since my ratings at SGBlogNews seem to be going thru the floor :D, and tomorrow is election day here in the U.S., I might as well tackle another controversial topic.

Should we mix Christianity and politics? I have read some posts at SoGospelNews that say we shouldn't. That, in fact, God doesn't care who wins the election. Obviously, I don't speak for God, but I do find it odd to think he would be just as happy no matter who wins. Let's take this to an extreme. What if a known satanic leader was on the Rep. or Dem. ticket? Would God not care then either?

My advice to all Americans (the ones who are registered, anyway), is to think about which candidate best reflects their values and their beliefs, and pray to God for guidance, and then go out and VOTE! It is a responsibility that you SHOULD NOT shirk. Men and women have fought and died for this right, so please do your part and participate in this election.

OK, let me have it!