Southern Gospel Music In the 21st Century

21st CenturyI believe it is good every so often for individuals to step back and take stock of where they are in life and where they want to go (set goals).  With the passing of another National Quartet Convention, I thought why not apply that to Southern Gospel music.

Instead of me spouting off all the things I would change/keep about Southern Gospel music in the 21st century, I thought I would open it up to the readers of this blog to offer your insight on the following questions.

So this is your chance to let everyone know your thoughts about Southern Gospel music.  Here are the questions to ponder.  No need to have an answer for every question.  Pick those you want to answer and offer your thoughts.

  1. Why are you still listening to Southern Gospel music in 2013?
  2. What is it about Southern Gospel music in 2013 that keeps you listening?
  3. Do you believe the karaoke nature (use of tracks) of Southern Gospel music has helped/hurt its appeal?
  4. Would you prefer if a live Southern Gospel concert experience was actually live (with musicians, no tracks, no stacks)?
  5. Do you think the stylistic umbrella of Southern Gospel music is a strength or weakness?
  6. As a listener, do you automatically write off a specific artist based on their style, even though they still cater to Southern Gospel music?
  7. Do traditionalists (those who prefer 4 guys and a piano player) truly believe that the other styles that make up Southern Gospel music will ultimately eliminate the traditional style from Southern Gospel music?
  8. What do you consider, as a listener, to be the greatest decade in Southern Gospel music?
  9. What one factor has contributed most to the declining fan base of Southern Gospel music?
  10. If you had the power to change one thing about Southern Gospel music, what would it be?

6 thoughts on “Southern Gospel Music In the 21st Century

  1. 2. Even though I admit it’s not what I circulate most on my ipod, there are still some artists making interesting music. More than anything, I need music that will keep me coming back for more. And of course a good southern gospel lyric can be very encouraging.

    3. This is hard to say. I know everybody says yes, of course, but Michael Booth’s experience makes me wonder if the majority of the people who are actually paying don’t really care. There are some people who’ve seen it all and need an added incentive to keep coming back, but they’re a small minority who probably a) already know some of the artists and b) need variety and interest in their musical experience. To draw in young people—again, it’s hard to say. In my experience, young people who are hooked on this music at all enjoy all kinds of groups. Myself, I think all you need is a piano to create a great live moment, but even that extra cost is heavy in the southern gospel world.

    5. Of course it’s a strength! It keeps the music distinctive even though there are a lot of “flavors” if you will. Are you talking more about the name?

    6. I don’t know if “write off” is the term, but obviously if I listen to their music and I decide I’d rather fill my ipod with some other things, then I don’t add their albums to the mix. That’s how I approach every artist.

    10. I’d freshen things up a little—give Bill some new jokes, arrange for more artists to show their stuff on mainstage, etc.

  2. 1. I listen to SGM because of the message in the songs. I like the sound of SGM, quartets and trios and some soloists. I can hear the words of the song and understand them.

    2. I am having a hard time staying focus on much of the SGM coming out today. There seems to be too orchestration, too much technollogy put into the recordings. A lot of groups are wandering from one style to the next trying to grow there audiences but in turn losing them. Take the Inspirations and The Primitive they have found their niche and they have not changed. But they are still here and they are making hits and people are coming to see them. Take the Gold City they had a sound in the 80’s and early 90’s that was fabulous. I know that personnel changes happen, but Gold City has never got back to where they were in that era.
    Les Beasley showed you could have personnel changes but keep your sound.

    3. I believe karaoke has hurt SGM for the most part. I know it is an expense to have a live band. But look at the Cathedrals they were the class act who had excellent recordings. But they could come on stage, no stacking, no tracks just a piano and a bass and turn the crowd on. They were from the old school who knew how to sing “LIVE” Another reason I feel it has hurt is because you don’t on the local level get the young people introduce to playing an instrument in a group. That is why we don’t see many young people at concerts.

    4. I prefer a live band. Help the young people.

    5. The umbrella effect is weakness especially in groups who are trying to do a little bit of everything. There needs to be a distinction. Find your niche and stay with it.

    6. Yes. There are some that say they are SGM, but they are not.

    7. Yes I believe it is happening now. Just take a look at country music and you will see what I mean.

    8. I would say the 70’s. I would include the late 60’s also. I remember seeing 10,000 people in a little NW Florida town in a football field sitting on blankets to listen to groups sing alnite. They were pure SGM, no soundtracks, no rock gospel. The singers were singers and entertainers and they drew the crowd.

    9. Economics has hurt SGM. But another thing that has hurt SGM, the churches have got away from singing SGM. We have people in churches that has not heard a quartet sing true SGM. Another reason we have quit taking our children and grandchildren to the sings, because of economics and various reasons. Quit leaving your family with baby sitters and bring them to a sing. They may say I don’t want to go, but take them to see a live SGM band, not a live record, they just might like it. You never know. They see all the other junk on TV and the internet take them to a live concert. Also promoters have quit using local talent in concerts and that has hurt also. Radio stations ought to help local talent also. Radio stations ought to rely more on their self programing instead of satellite services. Do more of the usic playing themselves.

    10. I appreciate what Bill Gaither has done with his vision, but I think he needs before he retires to have a tour with the groups he has doing all traditional SGM without the fancy arrangements. Just be simple.

    This is my thoughts.

    God bless you.


  3. 1- It’s the first music I ever heard. I love the message and I love the sounds.

    2- Again, the message and the excitement I feel when I hear this music. It’s like a feeling of home and I love it.

    3- Only very recently did I jump off the fence and say it’s hurting SGM. The genuine nature of live music I think is what has made SGM stand out. Plus, I think it softens the impact. One of my favorite things to do is (Not a knock against them) watch the Kingsmen do the same song with a live band and without. It just doesn’t sound that exciting because the recording doesn’t know what the mood in the room as a opposed to a live band.

    4- I prefer live, but tracks don’t bother me too much.

    5- Not sure, I think it helps to have different kinds of sounds but I think it again doesn’t make us any different from other genres.

    6- Yes, I always know when I can take a break watching a Gaither video because some people just don’t excite me and I just don’t like there style.

    7- I’d like to think not, but finding a traditional group is getting harder to find.

    8- I spend a lot of free time on YouTube so even though it’s before I was born, I gotta go with the 80s. Masters V, Gold City, Kingsmen, Cathedrals, Florida Boys, Singing Americans just look at all the legends that came from the 80s. Although I do think the 90s are underrated, lots of powerhouse groups not as much exposure.

    9- I just mentioned it. Exposure. We have to find a way to get SGM back into the mainstream media. Gaither isn’t really able to drag everybody along. Think about it. The most popular quartet going today, Triumphant, has never been on a Gaither video (The Tent ones don’t count they got cut from the DVDs). The only time I’ve seen a SGM on mainstream TV lately is EHSS yearly National Anthem at a NASCAR race.

    10- Have had someone who could regularly do something in Gaither-style show since he really can’t anymore.

  4. 1. I love the music and the message.
    2.Actually, I mostly listen to recordings of qts. of the late 40’s-early 60’s. There are only three or four groups of this era I listen to-those that consist of four guys and a piano-no loud bands to drown out the voices.
    4. Definitely
    6. Definitely
    7. Possibly
    8. 1950’s
    9. I do not see the dedication of so many in SGM today that the guys who paved the way had. too many groups going country-style or progressive. Just once, I’d like to hear one of the groups who have gone to country-style gospel admit that it was really about the money. Nothing wrong with a man feeding his family, but man up and say that is why. One guy whose group switched used to be a nice-looking guy with a smooth voice. Now, he looks like he crawled out from under a rock and growls instead of sings.
    10. Removal of hypocracy. There is a book out now written by a former (?) qt. member that talks about the use of alcohol, drugs and womanizing in some groups.

  5. 1.It’s still the greatest music out there!!!

    2.The variety in groups and styles,i’m never bored.

    3.I beleive it’s a weakness on the performance level,but i beleive it’a s strength on the business level,a ton of those tracks have been sold .

    4.I prefer a live band but,i can deal with tracks,however i abhor stacks.

    5.Very much a strength.

    6.Never,although i detest heavily orchestrated songs,they put me soundly to sleep.

    7.Traditionalist dofeel threatened ,but with Gold city,Triumphant,Brian free & assurance,Kingsmen,Gaither Vocal Band,Legacy v and Signature Sound firmly established in the field and up and coming groups like Lefevre Quartet,Old Paths and Sould Out Quartet in the wings,i see no reason to fear.

    8.With the dominance of groups lke The Rambos,The Happy Goodmans,The Paynes,and Inspirations ,it’s the 70’s for me.

    9.Toughy.I feel like it’s horrible radio exposure.

    10.I’d immediately unstack everyone!!!

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