Southern Gospel Perspective

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

Location: United States


Gaithers, Stacks, and Fatigue

After reading Avery's comments on Kyle Boreing's comments, and then reading Kyle's comments and then watching both included Youtube/Gaither videos, I think I have a couple of comments from my perspective.

The thing that struck me about the difference between these two snapshots of Gaither Eras was "freedom". I think that can be viewed and perceived in several different ways.

  • The English/Franklin/Lowry video was, as has been mentioned by both previous commentors, not nearly as polished as the Penrod/Hampton/Hall video. However, the first three seemed at ease. They seemed to feel that they were in charge and that they were performing for the audience, not for Bill. They were, it appeared to me, to be ultimately confident in what they were doing and how it would be accepted. This may not have been what they really were feeling at the moment, but it is the perception they gave.
  • The Penrod/Hampton/Hall group was working very hard to "perfection". In other words, they didn't appear to be enjoying it so much as enduring it. The exception to this is Guy, Guy looked more relaxed and sang with as much freedom as anyone could, I think.
So, what is the cause of this perceived difference?

  • Well, Marsh and Wes are fairly new GVB member so that could play a part.
  • The two instances are from completely different eras, the first being at the beginning of the Gaither Empire where the "slickness" and the idea that this video will need to be as polished as possible for mass consumption had not yet taken hold. The second was more recent and being performed with the foreknowledge that what they were doing would be seen all over world for years and years to come. This could cause a pressure and tenseness that is visible to the audience.
  • Perhaps the whole "new group", Bill included, feel very high expectations that can only be met with near perfection and so don't have the freedom to improvise and have one member feed the other lines while in the middle of a performance. Maybe Bill feeling this kind of pressure increasing that feeling among the other members?
I don't have the answers, just the above observations.

One other thing to note: I was at the second taping in Paducah with Gaither and SSQ. I have both positive and negative things I could say about the experience, but I can tell you from the live audience perspective that there were not 10 people in the crowd that would have noticed anything was amiss, as Kyle pointed out about the stacks. The semi-surprise at having the Gaithers show up at all was treated as if they were rock-stars by this audience.


The Cathedral Quartet

OK, if you are easily offended or you are the greatest George Younce fan in the known Universe, then please quit reading right now. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and it will save you many points on your blood pressure if you just turn away. I know many who do read further will consider much of it heresy.

You were warned.

That being said, well, it's not quite that bad. I just wanted everyone to know what they were getting into up front, and to get rid of anyone who just can't stand to read anything slightly critical of The Cats and former members.

One thing I've been noticing more and more lately is the almost "god-like" worship that has been thrown on George Younce. Maybe it's been there all along and I just let it wash over me unnoticed. But really, everywhere you look it seems like someone is talking about the Cathedral Quartet and George Younce.

For full disclosure purposes here, I loved George Younce and I am a big fan of his voice and singing. On top of that, there was something magical about the way George handled an audience, especially later in his career.

No, what I'm talking about now is the "glorification" of George to the near exclusion of Glen. In many places I looked in researching this article, the group was referred to as George Younce and The Cathedral Quartet. Obviously, these must be individuals who never saw them live or are teenagers, or something.

If you are a Cathedral fan at all, you must know that Glen Payne WAS The Cathedral Quartet. (OK here comes some heresy) In my opinion, you could replace George with any number of bass singers and still have the same basic, great, Cathedral sound. If you try to replace Glen, you don't have The Cathedrals at all. Perfect example... Old Friends Quartet. Not a bad group by any means, but NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES the equivalent of The Cathedral Quartet, and that's with The Legend Jake Hess at lead.

Again, before your blood pressures gets any worse, George Younce was a very good bass singer. He was a very good SINGER, period. However, he wasn't even the best singer in The Cathedral Quartet, much less the best bass singer ever. Here is an article by John Scheideman that makes the point much clearer than I would every be able to do.

So, what are the reasons for this seeming "revisionist history". Was it because Glen passed first? Is it because George was Ernie's F-i-L and so was promoted by him and SSQ? Is it because people have short to no memories? All of the above? None? You tell me.

Personally, I see it the same way I see modern sports figures compared to legends. Someone who never saw Babe Ruth play has no way to compare him to Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols. Someone who never saw Kareem Abbul Jabbar in his prime can have no comprehension of how dominant he was and so think Michael Jordan (or now Kobe Bryant) invented the game.

George was very good, but there are giants in the past at singing bass. Chief, JD, and Big Jim Waits come readily to mind.

Well, if you suffered through till the end, let me have it.


Southern Gospel Bloggers' Roundtable

I received info about this from Avery a few weeks back, but I see that it has come to fruition. I would have loved to be able to participate, however personal/family circumstances are going to prevent me from being able to even attend NQC at all. Only the second time I've missed in the last 18 years.

This event would be something great for "us bloggers" to attend. The potential to have input and perhaps have some positive impact on SG's future are great.

In this "technology age", maybe we could have a "virtual" roundtable at some point, with participation via web conferencing. The logistics might be a little difficult, but it is something to consider.


Tomorrow's All-Star Quartet

Who are the singers who are making the biggest movement upward in our industry? These may not be the best at their respective positions right now, but in a few years... watch out!

Bass - Aaron McCune

Aaron is a future star in this business. He is already right near the top, and with many bass singers aging (Gerald Williams, etc.), retiring (Tim Riley, etc.), or just plain quitting (Gene McDonald, etc.) he is moving up very fast indeed.

Baritone - Doug Anderson

The lone member of the Signature Sound Quartet on this list is without a doubt the greatest asset of that group. Not only is he a tremendous baritone, but he is great on lead as well. I've been on the DA bandwagon for a while now, but he really does just get better and better. He may not be the very best baritone right now (Mark Trammell is still singing, is he not), but Doug is THE baritone of the future.

Lead - This one is not quite as obvious to me. There are some tremendous lead singers in SG, but which one is going to be the all-star of tomorrow? Josh Garner is one I looked at very hard, but with TFB's retiring, I'm unsure of his next move. My choice is Bill Shivers. He is doing good things with BF&A and is really under-rated. With more exposure and name recognition, I think he may be labeled as the next great SG lead singer.

Tenor - Eric Phillips

This was another very difficult choice as their are lots of good up-and-coming young tenors out there. Others that were right on the cusp were Anthony Facello, Steve Ladd, Jerry Martin, etc. Eric just seems to me to have that something special that sets him up as the future great tenor. I have mentioned many times on here about how I keep expecting wonderful things from Mark Trammell's Trio and I do. When these things do happen, that is when I see Eric getting the huge amount of respect he deserves.

That's my list, how would yours differ?