Ask Me Anything…

Have you ever wondered what my thoughts were on a specific subject as it relates to Southern Gospel music.

Now is your chance to find out.  In the comments section, leave any question as it relates to all things Southern Gospel music and I will give you my unequivocal, unfiltered response.

**No question is off-limits**


25 thoughts on “Ask Me Anything…

  1. Hi Steve. Surprised no one has asked a question yet, but I’ll start out with one. I am no young man any longer and actually started listening to and attending southern gospel concerts way back in the 1960s. To be honest, I don’t get to attend many southern gospel concerts here in Michigan, although the more rural communities do have them much more than our Detroit area, where they used to be held with Lloyd Orrell promoting them at Detroit’s 5,000 seat Masonic Temple. Totally different era.

    But here is the question: How do you think we might be able to get our young people (even like my own kids) interested in some form of southern gospel music? Is there any hope? So much of modern music is not done as excellently, timing way off, etc., but hard to get our young people to even give a listen to anything labeled southern gospel.

    1. Hello Jerry,
      Tough question in that every one has their own personal taste in music. You can’t force someone to like something, especially when it comes to music. You can’t even force someone to listen to it because that will turn them off even more.

      The individual will have to connect to the music in order for it to become something they listen to regularly. For me, I heard it around the house growing up. Then, when I was taken to my first concert as a kid, the music came alive and the performance of the artists is something I still remember to this day. I connected with the music and it made me a lifetime listener.

  2. What group today do you see being the legands 50 years from now? Similar to the way the Statesmen are legands today?

    1. There are plenty of legends still singing/touring today; people like Randy Shelnut, Connie/Claude Hopper, Ann Downing, Bill Gaither, etc.

      As far as legendary status (ie Statesmen/Cathedrals), the Booth Brothers are closest from the current crop of artists that are not already considered legends. And they didn’t even need a bass singer to achieve that status. 🙂

  3. Ten years from now, what groups do you think will be influential in Southern Gospel. think right now we are at a period of transition in the genre as many young groups are starting to make their presence known like the Erwin’s, Tribute, and others. Also, what do you think about the future of NQC? In ten years, do you still see it being around?

    1. The big groups influencing the genre 10 years from now will be:

      *Ball Brothers
      *Mylon Hayes Family
      *I foresee a young quartet made up of kids from current artists, making waves.

      I believe NQC will ultimately become a multi day event like Singing In The Sun and Gatlinburg Gathering. It will still be around in ten years, just not at the scale it is now.

    1. I will break it down this way:

      *1950s – Statesmen
      *1960-1964 – Statesmen
      *1965-1969 – Oak Ridge Boys
      *1970-1974 – JD Sumner & Stamps
      *1975-1979 – Kingsmen
      *1980-1984 – Singing Americans
      *1985-1989 – Gold City
      *1990-1994 – Cathedrals
      *1995-1999 – Kingdom Heirs
      *2000-2004 – Dove Brothers
      *2005-2009 – Dixie Echoes
      *2010-2014 – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

  4. How rigged do you think awards/charts are?
    There are certain groups who get multiple chart topping songs seemingly because their group is that popular yet no other evidence lending to their appeal–awards, overwhelming concert attendance leading me to believe it’s someone who’s developed some really great relationships with DJs.
    Then there are groups who suddenly get award nominations (SN, Dove, etc.) who never had them until they signed with one of 2 particular noted record labels despite their popularity already being sealed prior to the record label leading me to believe there is an agenda with record labels to have multiple subscriptions/memberships and pooling their votes. I could name names because there are multiple examples.
    Despite my supposed rigging, who are truly the most popular artists these days? I would guess Booths, Collingsworths, Gaither, Triumphant have legitimate strong followings. It doesn’t seem to matter if those have actual hits/awards anymore. Back in the day, there was no question the Goodmans, Inspirations, Cathedrals were truly popular without any help from the system.

    1. I wouldn’t say awards shows are rigged; more like heavily influenced. Chart success has NEVER had a direct bearing on the ultimate popularity of an artist. Radio airplay provides an access point for a new artist to be heard by the radio listener. Listeners in turn will like a specific song and then may give the new artist a chance by buying product or attending one of their concerts. At that point, it is the artists responsibility to keep that listener coming back by providing the best concert experience possible. If not, the listener will move on to an artist that does.

      I’ve seen artists who’ve had multiple #1 hits and still can’t pull a concert crowd. The biggest relationship in radio chart success is between the record label and radio station. Nearly 100% of the songs that go #1 (at least on Singing News) is being promoted by either Crossroads or Daywind. It is very rare for an independent artist to get a #1 song. It is also hard to take the Singing News chart seriously since it was purchased by Salem, which operates the solid Gospel radio network.

      The record labels (especially Daywind/Stow Town) also have big pull/influence with GMA voting when it comes to Dove Award nominations.

      Since Singing New Fan Awards is a fan voted award show, it is no secret the most popular artists touring right now are the artists winning (Booth Brothers, Collingsworth Family, Triumphant).

      1. I have seen time after time even the “fan voted” awards you mentioned suddenly include artists after signing with a major label. A major artist recently mentioned to me their amazement at a song of theirs that made it to the top 5 or 10 that charted ok but they never sang it. And even they believe it was only nominated because of record company (who they’re no longer with) pull. If said label has subscriptions for all their employees, they could push for votes for a particular song or artist.
        The Collingsworth and GVB for that matter are proof text that charting and awards don’t have a direct bearing on popularity. They’ve got it regardless.

      2. The thing about the record labels is the constant advertising/promotion of their artists at awards time. Placing ads in the very magazine subscribers will be looking at to determine who to nominate goes a long, long way.

  5. How long do you think the novelty will wear off for Southern Gospel artist to make concept videos like artists used to do for MTV? In say the last 5 years is there any songs that were recorded that you think would have made a good radio single release from an artist? Do you think family groups will still be around in 10 years?

    1. Concept videos are still quite popular with the mainstream musical genres because of YouTube. Nearly all country and rock artists still make concept videos for YouTube consumption. As long as there is quality production and the concept video is actually telling some kind of story behind the song, I think Southern Gospel artists should continue doing them. But if artists do them, they need to create their own channel so they can’t make revenue off the views.

      The biggest misses from record labels in terms of missed singles recently have been:
      * “I Believe He’s Alive” – Bowling Family
      * “I Won’t Go Back” – Cana’s Voice
      * “Lord, I’m Thankful” – Perrys
      * “Made For Gold” – Triumphant
      * “Saved By The Same Grace” – Greater Vision
      * “Thank You For Saving Me” – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
      * “You Brought Us Out” – Gaither Vocal Band

      As long as their is Southern Gospel music, there will be family groups!

  6. Two questions:
    1. What is the last album you got really excited about?
    2. Have you ever received an album so bad you were unable to write a review?

    1. 1. One of the best albums released over the last five years that I still listen to on a regular basis is the Dunaways; ‘Church In The Kitchen’ (2014).

      2. Quite frequently. If I am not able to give an album at least a ‘C’ rating, I will not write a review. In 2014, the Inspirations, ‘God’s Word Will Stand’, would have received a ‘D’ rating if I would have written a review. Guy Penrod’s, ‘Classics’ will not receive a written review this year for the same reason.

  7. Who do you think are the best and worst groups at handling transitions/public relations?

    I’d say the best right now is Canton Junction. They announced Gordon Mote’s joining the group just a few weeks ago, and they’re already on the cover of the Singing News. Whoever was in charge of keeping the announcement under wraps deserves a medal!

    1. The Gaither machine is hands down the best at PR/transitions as it relates to the Southern Gospel market. PR in the Southern Gospel industry is atrocious when compared to other mainstream musical genres.

      If I had to name one group to be the worst at PR/transitions, it would be Gold City.

    1. Any musical genre is entertainment. Entertainment is not a dirty word, as some listeners of Southern Gospel want to portray. I consider Southern Gospel events concerts. Music speaks to a listener through the lyric in the song, but that doesn’t automatically make the artist a “ministry”. I get spoken to through lyrics of non-christian musical genres; that is what music is designed to do.

  8. I mostly agree with you, Steve. However, one example we might point to is the Psalms which was basically the “gospel” music of that era, thousands of years ago. Very different, probably mostly a chant in style, when sung, but I doubt that hardly any of it would have been considered entertainment. So, isn’t it possible, and desirable, to have both ministry and entertainment in a single concert? Some people may look for one or the other. I prefer both, but I could be fulfilled with either. Just my two cents worth.

    1. Music is felt by the listener and every song has a different level of impact on a listener. I may be moved by a song in concert that may not affect any other attendee at the concert. That is why I think it is a stretch to call a musical artist a “ministry”. The song is what is felt, not particularly the artist performing it.

  9. I was busy moving, so I didn’t see your response Steve. But I have to disagree on your last point. You said “The song is what is felt, not particularly the artist performing it.” I have heard the same sermon preached by different preachers and the one that lacked the anointing of the Holy Spirit was the dead letter and fell flat. Same thing with gospel music. I have heard the same song sung by different artists and sometimes the same song was a tremendous blessing to me and sometimes had a much lesser impact. The Bible tells us the “letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” The same song, the same word can be delivered differently and received differently. But I do understand the other side of the argument because “God’s word does not return void” and sometimes another person may be very blessed even if I was not.

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