Southern Gospel Perspective

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

Location: United States


Merry Christmas

I just want to wish all the people reading this a very Merry Christmas. I hope everyone has the best Christmas ever.

Remember the Reason for the Season!

This will most likely be my last post for a few days while I celebrate the Holidays.

Thanks for reading!


Let's Just Be Ourselves

Lots of interesting (and sometimes confrontational) discussion regarding the direction of SG and who/what is an SG artist supposed to be like.

McCray Dove has his opinions about what he likes. He also simply states that he performs what he enjoys without making a judgement about other artists.

Buried within his discussion is an interesting point though. He says, "I am waiting for the ear ring and nose ring to take place." This statement does raise the point of what is and isn't acceptable in SG. My response is that in the end the market will decide.

If what you are selling (in this case your music, your stage presence, your ministry, etc.) will be judged by the audience. If you record and sing music that audiences enjoy and purchase, then no matter what you call yourself (SG, CCM, etc.) or no matter what others call it, you can be successful.

To me, the label you put on something has little importance when compared to doing something you enjoy, something that audiences enjoy, and something that is furthering the Cause of Christ.

A perfect example of this might be The McKameys. They are without a doubt a very popular group. There are many who would say they are not Southern Gospel. Some might argue they have more of a country sound. So call them Country Gospel. Really what does it matter? If you like them, you are going to buy their music and go to their concerts regardless of what label they are given.

The Dove Brothers are another good example. McCray and the Doves sing a very traditional quartet program. Sure they have some nice stage antics, etc. to liven the event, but in the end they are a Southern Gospel Quartet. The people who enjoy that kind of thing are going to buy their music and attend their concerts. Their success will be based on continuing to put out good music and keeping their audience happy.

The above are just two examples and two extremes. There are other variations as well. Both groups are successful and have an audience that enjoys what they do. Both these groups could be on the same program and they would probably attract many of the same fans and also many fans that like one or the other better.

Whatever you call it, I don't think I've read anyone suggesting we kick groups out of our genre just because we don't enjoy their style. There may be certain promoters who prefer to promote one type of group more than the others. The same rule of "the market" applies here. If the promoter can get audiences to attend his/her concerts, then they will be successful and can continue with that direction. If audiences don't come out, then the promoter will quit/go out of business or try something different.

When you get down to it, my point is "Let's just be ourselves". Sing what we enjoy singing and keep our audience happy. Hopefully we won't have to start wearing noserings any time soon.


Old News

My last commenter stated that "this is old news" and that they were tired of it. I can understand someone being tired of it, but I suppose some people think there is more that needs to be stated.

Since most people who have commented on my previous blog have done so anonymously (Ok, no jokes from the peanut gallery. I realize I have no room to gripe about that :D ), it is difficult to discuss this here in a comprehensible manner.

Suffice it to say that people on both sides of this issue have made some good points. I think we all realize it is difficult to have someone degrade you and your family and not respond in kind. I know that I probably couldn't. I think it would be wrong of me to do so, but knowing myself and human nature, I would still probably do it...

Perhaps it would be for the best if I did not post this and try to let it die down. My natural tendencies toward peacemaker won't let me do that, I guess. I still feel like both parties (SoGospelNews, etc. and AveryFineLine) have some great potential for good in our industry. Much of that potential is already being realized, but I also think issues like this are a drain and hurt more than they help.

Thanks to all who have commented and keep them coming.


Anonymous no more?

Apparently the anonymity of the Avery Fineline blogger has been broken. Also, there seems to quite a bruhaha over the manner of his coming out. It has also been said that he is a nobody.

Well, I guess my first thoughts are it is kind of sad when a blogger and his identity are the "talk of the day" in Southern Gospel music. I do wonder about the extreme prejudice I seem to see with regards to anonymous blogging. I guess it is a testament of sorts to Avery's popularity/influence that someone(s) would be interested in "outing" him.

I didn't know him before and I still don't. Oh, I know his name and a few details, but that is not KNOWING someone. So, I think his blog will be taken in the same way it always has been, by me at least.

Perhaps Avery stepped on a few too many toes, too many times. Maybe that's why it became such a big deal to find him out. I wonder if that really has resolved any of the conflict though? I doubt it, but perhaps it could lead to something. I think it would be great if Avery and the good folks at Sogospelnews/SGBlogNews/etc. could work out any differences, agree to stop the name calling, and begin (and continue) using their respective sites and abilities to further this brand of music we call Southern Gospel. But much more important than that, to further the cause of Christ.

Those are my thoughts for the day, how do you see it?


Christmas Recordings

'Tis the Season!

Some of my favorite music is Christmas music. My favorite songs are generally the spiritual ones.

In my opinion, these are some of the best SG Christmas recordings:

1. A Cathedral Christmas, A Capella
This recording is without a second thought my favorite recording (of any kind). The vocals and arrangements are simply incredible. The song selection is great also. Picks off this recording? It is too hard to pick just a few because they are all wonderful. If you force me though: Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Angels We Have Heard on High, and We Three Kings.

2. A Gold City Christmas
This is the latest Christmas CD by the Gold City Quartet. I have three Christmas recordings by the guys, but this one is my favorite. It is full of traditional Christmas songs and the performances are absolutely beyond compare. Gold City hit a home run with this one. My only complaint is the song selection is mostly secular, and I would have liked to have more spiritual songs on there. Picks from this CD are: The First Noel and Go Tell It On the Mountain.

3. A Greater Vision Christmas
Wow, there seems to be a shortage of good names for these recordings, huh? Didn't require too much thought for the first three anyway! Regardless, this recording like the previous two is really good. I do wish that instead of recording several individual solos, that the guys would have sung them all as a trio. Picks off this recordings are: Cherish That Name and O Holy Night (fabulous rendition by Gerald).

4. Gaither Vocal Band - Still the Greatest Story Ever Told.
This recording is not full of traditional Christmas songs, but as far as quality goes, it is second to none. I definitely enjoy listening to it. Picks are: Mary Did You Know, New Star Shining, and He Started the Whole World Singing.

5. Time Life Christmas.
I know, this is not a Southern Gospel recording. However, it IS full of great Christmas music performed by some of the greatest vocalists in music history. There are also many, many spiritual songs and the quality is very good for such old recordings. Some of the artists included are: Dolly Parton, Bing Crosby, Alabama, Mel Torme, Oak Ridge Boys, Elvis, Brenda Lee, and many more. Picks are: White Christmas, Christmas in Dixie, and Holly Jolly Christmas.

Tell me some of your favorites!


Under-appreciated (Part 5)

Getting back to the ladies, here is my list of under-appreciated alto singers:

Libbi Perry. Libbi is one of the great female singers of our time, IMHO. She has great pathos and strength to her voice. The Perrys are a great group and they would not be nearly so great without Libbi singing alto.

Shaye Truax. This lady is singing alto for the legendary Chuck Wagon Gang. Her opera trained voice is a great addition to this terrific "new" group of Wagoneers.

Susan Jackson. Susan is doing a great job singing with her sister in Karen Peck and New River. Susan does not seem to get a lot of recognition (thus her entry here), but she is a terrific vocalist and complements New River's sound very well.

Debra Talley. One of the true talents in Southern Gospel. Debra is probably the best female vocalist in SG at this time. Debra's voice is completely recognizable, yet also so perfect. If you want a role model in Southern Gospel, you couldn't go wrong with Debra.

Connie Hopper. Connie is a legend in Southern Gospel music. Not only that, she is a very talented singer. Her alto is a huge part of the long-time success of The Hoppers. The song, That's Him, is just one example of the tremendous vocal talent of this great lady of Southern Gospel.

Personally, I thing the alto part is one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated. The soaring high soprano vocalists seem to get all the recognition, but the alto part is extremely important and has some of the great voices in SG.



The End of the World

Well, not really but you might think so from reading how only old folks go to SG concerts. The cry is "who is going to listen when they all pass on to Glory?"

On the surface this seems like an honest and good question. However, if you explore it deeper, you might begin to see the holes.

First, yes the SG audience is an "older" audience. I have seen many young people in these audiences as well, though. Not only in the audience but on the stage also.

Second, the truth is the United States population as a whole is growing older. There are more people in the "senior" age group than ever before. This could be seen as a sign for growth within SG.

Typically the older people get, the more conservative they get. They also begin to look more to the spiritual side of life. This too leads me to believe that having an "older" audience is not such a bad thing or a surprise.

Now, would we like to attract some of the younger crowd to our concerts? Of course! This would benefit the genre as well as the younger people. We should do things that make SG more accessible to these people WITHOUT alienating the fans we have now, though. That might be the real trick.

My conclusion is that there is definitely room for improvement and growth within the SG industry, but that there is no need to have a knee-jerk reaction and say everything is doom and gloom. I think SG is strong today and getting stronger. I think our audiences are always going to be "heavy" on the older crowd, but that we will continue to attract some younger people too.

How do you see it?