Southern Gospel Perspective

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

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Location: United States

8/08/2006

Southern Gospel "fan"atics

What is it about SG music that causes the sometimes extreme cases of "fan"aticism we see in this genre? Does this occur in other music genre's as well?

I've noticed over the past several months and years that a certain percentage of SG "fans" seem to latch onto one particular group to the exclusion of all others. I mean, is it normal for someone to think that their favorite group has the best singer at every position?

I am one who seldom has one particular group that stands way above all other groups. Typically I have 5-6 groups that have different things about them that I like and enjoy.

For example, Greater Vision records songs that really have meaning to me and Gerald Wolfe's vocal abilities are something to behold. That being said, I like Jonathan Wilburn with Gold City just as much at lead and Gold City has an overall better sound to me (although slight). The Dove Brothers are another group that gives something different and I enjoy their ability to remind me of "the good old days". The Florida Boys have probably the best bass singer on the road today and their lead singer is also extremely talented.

So, am I the oddball or is it more typical to put your favorite so far ahead of every other group? I would love feedback on that.

It may seem like I'm picking on one or two group in the following, but this is just for illustration, they are not the only groups that have this type of "fan"dom. The Crabb Family seems to attract a crowd that is really only there for them. In other words, I'm not sure most of their "fans" even know there are other SG groups that travel and sing. If you dare say anything slightly negative about them, the uproar is tremendous.

Another group that is recently developed this type of following is Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. A recent discussion (that has since been deleted) on their website is typical of the attitudes I'm talking about. Here was the gist since it has been removed: A thread was started about Tim Duncan being a great bass singer, carrying on the mantle for George Younce, sounding a lot like George, and generally being the best bass singer on the road. When a naysayer came along and said that Tim has a long, long way to go to be considered in the same breath with George Younce and that he (Tim) is not really even one of the very best bass singers traveling today, the "fan"atics came out of the woodwork and did everything possible to beat back that opinion. Implying the naysayer did not know good singing, wasn't sophisticated enough to hear George in Tim and basically that George passed the torch to Tim, so he must be the best.

If you want to join, then you can see what I'm basically talking about by reading most any thread over there and noticing the overall "gushiness" of the comments. Most of these are made by people who don't know these guys at all and may have only seen them in concert a time or two.

If it weren't so sad, it might be funny. It makes me want to know more about the "fan"atics and their demographics. From my limited viewings it seems for SSQ that their "fan"atics are either white-haired older ladies who want the guys to be their children/grandchildren or they are teenage girls (and probably boys) who adore them for all the same reasons that teenagers adore any secular "boy band" that you could name. Does this explain any of the fervor that develops for this one group? I don't know.

Again, these are not the only groups that have this type following, but I can only write so long... Another similar hero-worship group that comes readily to mind is The Gaither Vocal Band. Also, don't take from my using these groups for example that I don't enjoy them, I do. Some more than others, just like I feel about most groups.

OK, let me have it, but keep it civil please.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just surprised you didn't mention Saint Peg and her loyal band of troubadours. Try saying anything negative about the McKameys -- your life would be safer if you made a derogatory claim about Mohammed in downtown Gaza City. Rabid fans exist in all genres of music. It's just that most other styles tend to revolve around an individual, not a band or a vocal group.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

go to the david phelps board, you will nauseate. (i am a fan of david phelps by the way but not a phan which is a line you cross when you write about someone being a glorified chicken wing every two minutes of the day. sorry i am bitter)

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been a member of the EH&SS MB a long time, enough to know that there are people of ALL ages, from older ladies, to moms and dads in their 30's, to teenagers. I understand that some of the posts can come across as gushy, but much of it is due to after-concert excitement and just wanting to support the guys out of our appreciation for who they are and how their music has touched us.

There are many new fans that have somewhat changed the tone of the board, but there's still a number who actually do "know" the guys beyond having seen them once or twice and gotten an autograph, in which case there's some years and history to go with it. I believe it is never our intent to come across as having the attitude that just because so-and-so is our favorite group, that they are the "best ever", making everyone else "under par". That's open to subjective judgement.

Truthfully, I don't really have the time or interest to keep up with alot of different SG groups. I kinda stick with my personal favorite, partly because I do "know" them and love them as friends. Other people such as yourself have a number of groups you like equally, and that's great! It's not that I don't or can't appreciate other groups; when I have occasion to listen or see others, I do so with enjoyment, not comparing how much "better" or "worse" they are than so-and-so.

Everyone has their opinion and thoughts when it comes to music, and we would all do well to take that into account whether we're a big fan or not a fan at all. Some balance and understanding never hurt anyone. :-)

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read all this with alot of interest but really haven't heard anything new. It's not unlike church people that aren't to the point that they have more interest and appreciation for the "message" rather than the "messenger". Everytime I have attended an SSQ "service" I have come away as if I've been to a worship service. But their service is not the only one(s) I attend. Just last night I went to see another group - in fact several. God has chosen many servants to present His Word - I hope that no one will ever refer to me as a "fan" atic - that would sadden me deeply. It's with the love of God that I support these guys as much as I do any of the others that I support and go to see. (hold on because some of these "fan"atics are still growing and it's up to us to help them see the real message)

8:53 PM  
Blogger Southern Gospel Perspective said...

Anon 9:23,
Yes, The McKameys are not immune to this issue either. I am just not as familiar with their fans as I am with some others. Do they really believe Peg is the best SG alto? Hard to imagine with Connie Hopper, Libbi Stuffle, Debra Talley and others at that position.

Anon 10:27,
I haven't been to David's board, but I can imagine. This seems to be the same attitude and obliviousness I noticed at Signature Sound's site. They even use that goofy word: "phan".

Anon 11:21,
I would say that at least 75% of the posts come across as "gushy". I would disagree with you about the intent on the board though, it seemed fairly obvious to me (before the removal of many of said threads) that many of the posters on there did indeed believe their "guys" were the best at their respective positions. I agree about the balance, unfortunately these "fan"atics lack that completely.

Anon 8:53,
I appreciate your comments. I most certainly didn't have the same feeling (of having been to a worship service) as you seem to when I left the Paducah taping. It was way to orchestrated (and hokey) for there to have been much room for worship. The talent and performance was very good, but it is not what I would call a worship service.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Daniel J. Mount said...

I guess I have a question. Would you have said the same thing about fans who voted the Cathedrals as the best in every position for some years?

Additionally, I believe there is one factor that you may have overlooked. Many groups have their "gushy" fans, if you will. But you will usually not know about it unless the group has a message board.

Many groups--including the Inspirations, McKameys, Mercy's Mark, Perrys, Dove Brothers, Triumphant, and Kingdom Heirs--have devoted fans who might act like that on a group-specific message board.

Many groups have similarly devoted fans; only the ones with message boards provide a place for their fans to interact.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Southern Gospel Perspective said...

Daniel, I realize that other groups have what you call "gushy" fans, I even pointed that out. Perhaps the message board is part of the reason we know about SSQ's, but other groups have/had message boards too.

Yes, I would say the same thing about the Cats. If you considered the Cats of Glen, George, Mark, Danny, Roger as "the best" at that time, then when Scott and Ernie came along, they couldn't have been "the best" also. I mean, think about it, Mark and Danny were still as good as ever and still singing full-time SG.

9:00 AM  

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