SWOT Analysis: Nelons

nelonsWorking in the business world, the SWOT analysis is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization while also looking at opportunities and threats the organization could face.

This week’s SWOT analysis will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of one of Southern Gospel’s biggest mixed groups; the Nelons.

STRENGTHS

  • The vocal strength of the group make them one of the best in the industry.
  • Amber Nelon Thompson is one reason for the vocal strength.  It is hard to find a female vocalist in the industry as strong as her.
  • Song selection has also been key to the Nelons resurgence among Southern Gospel listeners.
  • The Nelon legacy, started by Rex Nelon, is a huge strength.  The group’s contribution to Southern Gospel music since 1977 is unmeasured.

swotWEAKNESSES

  • It would be nice if the Nelons had a bass vocalist to hearken the listener back to the Rex Nelon days.
  • I wish the group used more Nelon classics in the live concert setting.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • I hope the Nelons plan something special in 2017 to celebrate their 40 years in Southern Gospel music.  I would love a recording with former members re-recording Nelon classics.
  • The Nelons have capitalized on their tour with Michael English and Jeff Stice.  Continuing that and maybe adding another artist.

THREATS

  • I believe the immediate threat that could hurt the Nelons is the two girls getting married and leaving the group.
  • As Southern Gospel concert crowds continue to dwindle, this leaves the entire industry at a crossroads of where future revenue will be generated.

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  Down East Boys***

*Video Credit (SouthernGospelVideos.com)

SWOT Analysis: LeFevre Quartet

lefevre-quartet-11-x-17-poster (375x190)I re-started the SWOT analysis feature up three months ago and haven’t posted since.  Lets change that.  Working in the business world, the SWOT analysis is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization while also looking at opportunities and threats the organization could face.

This week’s SWOT analysis will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Southern Gospel quartet; LeFevre Quartet.

STRENGTHS

  • The immediate name recognition of Mike LeFevre allowed the LeFevre Quartet an instant listen by most Southern Gospel audiences.  His time spent with Gold City and to have the legendary name LeFevre were both huge strengths.
  • Being a male quartet in an industry dominated by male quartets allows the group comfort that listening audiences will enjoy what is provided musically.
  • The hire of Jeremy Peace at tenor was a great decision.  His vocal talent at the tenor spot is unmatched by most in Southern Gospel music.
  • Having Mike and Jordan, both LeFevres, as a constant with the group allows stability among Southern Gospel listeners.

swotWEAKNESSES

  • The group has had consistent turnover in the bass vocal spot.  If I’m not mistaken, the group is currently traveling as a trio as they look for a new bass vocalist.
  • The quartet needs a few signature songs that will be immediately recognized as LeFevre Quartet songs.  That doesn’t always translate to success but it helps.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Having the name LeFevre still in Southern Gospel music is a plus.  The group should do more to honor the LeFevre heritage in songs they perform in concert.
  • I would love to see a modern-day quartet revive, “Go Out To The Program”.  Performed by the Oak Ridge Boys in the early ’60s and then later by the Kingsboys in the 1980s.

THREATS

  • The consistent turnover at the bass vocal spot could ultimately leave the LeFevre Quartet a trio.  Look what happened to Brian Free & Assurance.  This could definitely cause the group to lose appeal with some listeners.
  • As Southern Gospel concert crowds continue to dwindle, this leaves the entire industry at a crossroads of where future revenue will be generated.

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  Nelons***

*Video Credit (Clarke Beasley)

SWOT Analysis: 11th Hour

11th Hour

11th Hour

Last week saw the return of the SWOT analysis feature.  Working in the business world, the SWOT analysis is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization while also looking at opportunities and threats the organization could face.

This week’s SWOT analysis will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of one of Southern Gospel’s fastest rising trios; 11th Hour.  The group now has three #1 songs to their credit with several more top tens.

STRENGTHS

  • 11th Hour has four albums to their credit and what they’ve been able to do, with the help of Crossroads and radio, in just a short amount of time is amazing.
  • The majority of the success can be credited to group founder/owner, Amber Eppinette.  Her songwriting and strong vocal/stage presence has allowed not only the industry, but the general Southern Gospel listening audience to take notice.
  • The trio has also been given the opportunity to have songs pitched to them, from the start, by the industry’s biggest writers.
  • While still being a young group within the industry, their success can only grow.  I would be bold enough to say, that as of this writing, they are the top trio in Southern Gospel music.

swotWEAKNESSES

  • They will never have the success/respect of a male quartet.  Southern Gospel has always been and will always be dominated by male quartets.  That doesn’t mean mixed groups will never have success because there have been plenty (ie; Jeff & Sheri Easter, Happy Goodmans, Hinsons, Hoppers, Nelons, Karen Peck & New River, Speer Family, Talleys, etc).
  • Certain times, depending on the song, 11th Hour can sound a lot like the Martins of the 1990’s.  While the Martins were an awesome group, an artist wants to be able to maintain and create their own identity.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • I know the group already does this in concert, but I would love to see an entire set with just Amber playing piano and Grant on bass.  Groups displaying their musical talent along with their vocal talent only enhances their audience appeal.
  • While this has nothing to do with 11th Hour specifically; in the vein of the last statement, I would love for the NQC to have one night during the week devoted to only voices and live instruments.

THREATS

  • Talented artists like 11th Hour have to excel doubly in order to be recognized with all the competition there is with sub/below par talent trying to catch a little spotlight.
  • Losing their record deal.  We see Southern Gospel artists move labels all the time, but being with one of the biggest in the industry in terms of success and promotion of their artists; I would want to see the group lose that.

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  LeFevre Quartet***

I know the following clip is two years old, but it shows what I am talking about if 11th Hour would do an entire set with just piano and bass.

*Video Credit (Candy Hughes)

SWOT Analysis: Canton Junction

CantonJunction (300x300)The last SWOT analysis feature I presented was February 2013.  In my reader survey a couple of weeks ago, a reader asked if I would bring this feature back.  You ask, I listen.  You are the only reason I continue this blog.

Working in the business world, the SWOT analysis is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization while also looking at opportunities and threats the organization could face.

This SWOT analysis return will look at the strengths and weaknesses of new quartet sensation Canton Junction.  They burst on the scene with a progressive Southern Gospel quartet sound that has caught listener’s attention.

STRENGTHS

  • With the backing of Difference Media (John Hagee Ministries), it is hard to not be successful.  The built-in audience/listener base is huge.
  • Matthew Hagee made it a point to find some prominent Southern Gospel quartet men in Tim Duncan and Ryan Seaton to fill vocal spots.  Casey Rivers at lead is no slouch either.
  • Their progressive Southern Gospel quartet sound puts them in a league with artists like the Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.
  • They  put on a performance.  When the group tours, they are serious.  When I saw them live in the fall of 2015, they came with a five piece band, sound, lights and they weren’t afraid to entertain.

swotWEAKNESSES

  • At the moment, their limited tour schedule inhibits more Southern Gospel listeners from seeing them live.
  • Trying to create their own identity along power house artists like the Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • A nationwide tour:  the group should plan on at least a thirty city tour this year.  Hitting new areas and defining your group as more than just the house band for John Hagee’s church would be beneficial for a wider audience.
  • Getting spots on all the major concert series would be helpful also.

THREATS

  • As with any Southern Gospel quartet, if the group suffers from consistent personnel changes, it will only hurt them with audiences.  Keeping a stable vocal line-up is key (see Triumphant Quartet).
  • The one downside of being affiliated with a major televangelist, is if scandal would arise, it would most likely hurt the reputation of the group.

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  11th Hour***

*Video Credit (Clarke Beasley)

SWOT Analysis – Kingdom Heirs

KHThis week finds another SWOT analysis feature.  Working in the business world, the SWOT analysis is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization while also looking at opportunities and threats the organization could face.

This SWOT analysis looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the Kingdom Heirs.  The resident group of Dollywood for nearly 30 years, the Kingdom Heirs have become one of the biggest quartets in Southern Gospel music.

They continue to provide the Southern Gospel listener with a consistent formula of standard quartet music.

STRENGTHS

  • Most seen group in Southern Gospel:  By being the resident group of Dollywood and performing several shows a day while the park is open allows the Kingdom Heirs to sing to more people in a year than any other artist in Southern Gospel music.
  • Arthur Rice:  Arthur Rice has proven he is one of the best lead singers in the history of this genre.  He rarely ever seems to be recognized for that talent.  Arthur has also proven his producing talents for the Kingdom Heirs over the course of the last decade.
  • Dianne Wilkinson:  Songwriter Dianne Wilkinson is as much a part of the Kingdom Heirs as any performing member.  Her songs have dominated Kingdom Heir albums for many years, providing the group with many hit singles (including several #1 songs).
  • Still have a band:  The Kingdom Heirs are of the rare breed that still have a band in Southern Gospel music.  Even though they still incorporate tracks with the instruments, it is still nice to have a band backing them up.

swotWEAKNESSES

  • Getting too comfortable in the recording process:  The Kingdom Heirs last two albums (When You Look At Me, We Will Stand Our Ground) have not lived up to the great albums the group was releasing prior (see Forever Changed, Going On With The Song, True To The Call).  Here’s hoping the next new album is a return to form.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Quartets recording:  Wouldn’t it be an interesting concept for the Kingdom Heirs record label (Crossroads) to get a couple of their quartets together to do a quartet recording by mixing members and adding different vocal configurations.  In addition to the Kingdom Heirs, they could use the Down East Boys, Inspirations, Kingsmen and Tribute Quartet.
  • Kingdom Heirs reunion recording:  While I understand this is about as likely to happen as Kim Hopper singing bass, it would be nice to see the former members come together to perform some of their biggest songs through the years.

THREATS

  • Losing their jobs at Dollywood:  The biggest threat to the Kingdom Heirs would be losing their jobs at Dollywood.  Having to go on the road full-time would be a huge adjustment for the Kingdom Heirs.  It could be one that would cause the group to retire.

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  McKAMEYS***

SWOT Analysis – Crist Family

Crist FamilyThis week finds another SWOT analysis feature.  Working in the business world, the SWOT analysis is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization while also looking at opportunities and threats the organization could face.

This SWOT analysis looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the Crist Family.  The group relocated from the west coast (Washington) in 2004 to make a go of it in Southern Gospel music.  Since that time they have had several hit songs.

The group also picked up horizon group of the year honors in 2009 at the Singing News fan awards.

STRENGTHS

  • Versatility:  Being a six member vocal group sets the Crist Family apart from all other vocal configurations in Southern Gospel music.  This allows them versatility in singing as a group or creating smaller vocal units.
  • Ensemble Work:  The Crist Family is also a testament to the ‘sum is greater than the individual parts’ motto.  The strength of the group’s sound is heard most when they are all singing together as a unit.
  • Tami Starkel:  Tami is one of the strongest performers in the Crist Family.  She has a stage presence when performing that draws the listener in.  She is a great asset to the group.
  • Radio Single Choices:  The Crist Family (along with record label Crossroads Music) have made good radio single choices.  The last several to feature Jackie have been the strongest of the group’s career thus far (see “I Love Lovin’ Jesus”, “My Heart Knows” and “Voice Of The Father”).

swotWEAKNESSES

  • Ensemble Work:  While ensemble work is a strength for the Crist Family, it is also a weakness in that there is no stand out vocalist among the six.
  • Loss Of Bass Singer:  Being a Southern Gospel artist, it was tough when the Crist Family lost their bass singer.  He added that extra punch to give the Crist Family their Southern Gospel identity.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Another Bass Singer:  Maybe Rich or John should consider singing bass to add that little extra Southern Gospel element to their music.
  • Revive Go Out To The Program:  The Oak Ridge Boys and later the Kingsboys performed a song “Go Out To The Program” to mimic different artists of their era.  With six members in their group, it would be great to see the Crist Family revive this tune and mimic some of the best mixed groups in Southern Gospel music history (Downings, Hoppers, Nelons, Perrys, Speer Family).

THREATS

  • Irrelevance:  This is a threat for the entire Southern Gospel music industry.  Are we entering a time in the history of this genre where Southern Gospel music (or Gospel music as a whole) is becoming irrelevant in today’s society/culture?  As more and more individuals in our society leave Church, doesn’t that also translate to giving up music that centers around the Christian lifestyle?

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  KINGDOM HEIRS***

SWOT Analysis – Kingsmen

KingsmenWith the new year here, I am easing back in to regularly scheduled programming.  This week sees the return of one of the most read features of 2012, the SWOT analysis.  Working in the business world, the SWOT analysis is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization while also looking at opportunities and threats the organization could face.

I thought this would be a good idea to apply to current Southern Gospel touring artists and the feature was born.  This first SWOT analysis of 2013 will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Kingsmen.

Another group in Southern Gospel music with a 50+ year career.  The Kingsmen are best known for their ‘3 chords and a cloud of dust’ days of the 1980’s.  How does the current group stack up?  Let’s take a look.

STRENGTHS

  • History:  The Kingsmen legacy in Southern Gospel music still garners the group attention.  Many who were around to hear the group in their prime will still hear the group in concert in for nothing else than nostalgia.
  • Kingsmen Hits:  Building on the Kingsmen legacy, the group has a catalog of hit songs that they still perform, adding to the nostalgia.  “The Judgement”, “Old Ship Of Zion”, “Stand Up”, “Traveling Home”, “When My Feet Touch The Streets Of Gold” are a few that come to mind.
  • Ray Dean Reese:  Ray has been with the Kingsmen over 45 years.  He’s carried on the Kingsmen tradition with class.
  • High tenors:  The Kingsmen have always been known for their high soaring tenors (see Johnny Parrack, Ernie Phillips, Garry Sheppard, Jerry Martin).  They found another one in current tenor Chris Jenkins.

WEAKNESSES

  • Personnel turnover:  The Kingsmen aren’t the only group to suffer personnel changes, but they have been hit hard the last several years.  At least the current line-up is working on a year together without a personnel shift.
  • Always in the shadows:  Any current line-up of the Kingsmen will always be in the shadow of the 1970’s/1980’s greatness the Kingsmen created.  Even though the group has released some strong albums the last several years, will they be remembered when the final chapter of the Kingsmen is written?  Only time will tell.

swotOPPORTUNITIES

  • Another live album:  The Kingsmen were known for their great live albums.  It is time for the current line-up of the group to record a live album that can stand up to the caliber of some of their most well-known (see Chattanooga Live and Live…Naturally).
  • Another reunion video:  I understand Eldridge Fox and Jim Hamill are no longer with us but there are plenty of Kingsmen greats that could be brought together to do another reunion video.

THREATS

  • Ray Retiring:  Can there be a Kingsmen if Ray Reese decided to retire?  There is always Brandon to carry on the legacy but it would be a tough sell.

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  CRIST FAMILY***

SWOT Analysis – Isaacs

This week’s SWOT analysis feature take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Isaacs.  This feature takes a tool used in business to look at different factors that can affect that business.  I thought why not use that model in looking at strengths and weaknesses of Southern Gospel’s biggest artists of today.

The Isaacs came to the fore front of Southern Gospel music in the early 1990’s.  The unique part about that is they did it as a bluegrass artist.  While their current style can be label ‘new grass’, the Isaacs are still one of Southern Gospel’s top mixed groups.

STRENGTHS

  • Instrumentation:  One selling point the Isaacs have to separate themselves from other artists in Southern Gospel music is live music.  Acoustical instrumentation back up each and every Isaacs performance.
  • Unique Harmony Arrangements:  The Isaacs have unique harmony arrangements, especially when Ben, Becky And Sonya are doing a cappella songs.
  • Group Member’s Songwriting:  The Isaacs is a group full of some of the best songwriters in the industry.  Becky Bowman, Sonya Isaacs and now Sonya’s husband Jimmy Yeary is adding his talents to the group’s song catalog.  The group’s recent recording, Why Can’t We, is evidence of this fact.
  • Homecoming Artists:  It is no secret the group found broader success after becoming regulars on Gaither’s Homecoming tour schedule.  The group still remains a regular on the tour.

WEAKNESSES

  • Bluegrass (‘new grass’) Style:  Not every Southern Gospel listener is going to be drawn to the Isaacs style.  Even so, I consider the Isaacs to be the best ever in Southern Gospel music when it comes to offering bluegrass music to a Southern Gospel crowd.
  • Success:  Some are probably questioning why I put this as a weakness.  Isn’t success a good thing?  My answer to that question is YES, but there does seem to be a subset of Southern Gospel fans who consider success a dirty word.  Those fans find fault with those groups which they deem to have too much success (see attitudes toward Gaither Vocal Band, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Hoppers, etc).

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Recording A Southern Gospel Album:  Wouldn’t it be great to hear the Isaacs lay down the bluegrass instruments for one album and do a ‘straight ahead’ four part harmony Southern Gospel album (they would actually use piano).
  • The Early Years:  I would like to hear some modern versions of some of their earlier hits: “Carry Me”, “From The Depths Of My Heart”, “I Have A Father Who Can” and “Unlike Me, Just Like Him”.

THREATS

  • Leaving The Southern Gospel Market Behind:  The Isaacs could easily market themselves to only the Bluegrass music market.  I hope that day never comes.  I enjoy their style and hope they continue to offer their music to the Southern Gospel market.

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  KINGSMEN***