“Was that the real Ernie?”

“Was that the real Ernie?”

Sam, then six-years old, asked the question in disbelief, having only seen Ernie Haase on several Cathedral videos.

It was March 19th, 2006, and our very first Southern Gospel concert.  Our family entered the high school auditorium in Eau Claire, WI, and were taken aback at the sight of Ernie Haase and  Signature Sound Quartet standing behind their product table. We were shocked. It was unheard of! What professional music group actually talked and mingled with the fans? Multiple members of our family had attended popular Contemporary Christian concerts, and nothing of the sort had been observed.

Now having attended more Southern Gospel concerts since 2006, we have closely observed the “table manners” of a multitude of different groups, both national and regional. Let us share our observations…

There are many different table manners. For example, there are those artists who actually feel most comfortable away from the table. They wander among the people, saying “hello”, trying to look busy, and sometimes leaving the table unoccupied.  These are most often the tenors, who, being social bugs and having short attention spans, cannot stay confined to one area. 🙂

Then we find the artists who take refuge behind the table, huddled together, staring out at the people with frightened eyes, only talking a few sentences to those who are brave enough to approach them at their table.  These are most often groups or regional artists who are newer to the concert scene and rather shy.

Of course, there are the individuals who reply to your appreciation from their safety behind the table with a curt, “Oh, thanks”, and immediately turn away, signifying the conversation is over. These industry members come across as aloof and egotistical.  We have also been disturbed by those artists standing behind the table waving fist-fulls of cash, yelling loudly, “I can help someone over here!”

The artists with the best table manners are those who are truly interested in what you have to say.  They are not afraid to come out from the table, but also utilize the table in a good way for what it is meant, namely product sales. They encourage and edify. They laugh easily, are sympathetic and genuinely concerned about ministry to the people.  They are real.

Yes, one of the things which has so attracted our family to this amazing genre is the behind-the-table experience at Southern Gospel concerts. The ability to interact with the people who sing our favorite music is a privilege we truly appreciate. It builds a personal connection which is not understood or experienced by those outside this genre.  Good table manners help build a bridge to the Gospel – the reason for it all.

– Article submitted by Taylor for TGF (with opinions from everyone in the family!)


For more Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

55 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. This was funny! Great article. 🙂

    I like to go “personality-watching” too. For example, last year I saw Signature Sound with Tim, and this year I saw them with Ian. I found out that Tim was kind of shy, but very gentle and willing to talk to you. It was a little hard to hear what he said, because he was so quiet! I did get him to smile a little bit at the end of our conversation though when I told him not to mess up on “This Old House” at the Tribute taping. 😀

    Then this year I met Ian, and he was the complete opposite, very extroverted. He talks rapidly and has a quick sense of humor. His speaking voice is pretty light considering the fact that he’s a bass, while Tim’s is more low-pitched.

    Then of course you have the Doug Andersons of the world who are just total sweethearts. I said once that Doug makes you feel like the most important person in the world when he looks at you.

    And then what’s interesting is watching how a singer deals with being in _incredibly_ high demand. This year I stood in a long line to see Ernie, and I got to watch him interact with people from a distance. What was fascinating is how he managed to focus down on each person while being ready to pivot to somebody else the next moment. Sometimes you had little kids who were giving him things, and they would get the most attention of all. One little girl gave him a picture she’d drawn, and he said, “Awwwww, that’s going on my refrigerator!”

    But he did a lot of multi-tasking. When I first handed him a CD to autograph, someone else was talking to him, and he literally signed my CD without looking at it while he kept eye contact with the other person. Later I did get to talk to him more, but immediately after we had done our little duet, there were several other people saying, “Ernie…Ernie!” So on the recording I have you can hear him saying, “That was sweet… Sign these for you?” I think that sort of thing might bug super-sensitive people who are like, “He’s not giving me his full attention! He’s ignoring me!” but really I think it makes perfect sense, and when you’re in that high demand you have to have balance.

    • Doug does make you feel very special, he just has a way about him that makes you feel like you are the only one he is singing too!! Have not had the chance to hear or meet Ian yet but am looking forward to seeing him next month. Devin is really a sweet guy also. Ernie, well there is only one Ernie. He listened so intently to a story a friend of mine told him last November, then mentioned it during the concert. that was the only time I have seen him out greeting before a concert, so it was Karma. Wayne, David, Zak, and now Kelly are all intregal players for EHSS and then there is Frank, who there would be no product without Frank:) the rest of the crew, we applaud you also for helping make each concert so successful

  2. Being in sales & management for 37 years – I actually sit back and observe fans and group members interact at the table. Some know how – and some don’t.

    Maybe it was the years spent with the Cathedrals and the solid influence of Younce and Payne – but Scott Fowler and all of L5 are professionals at the table. They are there to sell product – but to minister also.

    I’ve also noticed the Mark Trammell QT, Greater Vision, The Perrys & the Booth Brothers specifically in the last few months. Absolute professionals! The Hoppers know how to do it also.

    As I look back over my comments to proof them – I realized I listed several of the very top groups traveling today. It is part of the business – part of the ministry, perhaps as important as the singing.

    Perhaps in a slightly lower tier – but the Whisnants are top-notch at the table. The Dixie Echoes are perhaps the best I’ve ever seen work at the table. Randy Shelnut loves to hear someone say they saw his dad sing – his smile goes ear to ear…

    People must exercise common sense also. When there is a 15-20 minute intermission and 1,000 people – you are not going to get someone’s full attention. You’re much more likely to get that when you help them clear out and load their bus, or to talk before the concert.

    JEB

    • That’s why I like getting to a concert a little early so I can catch up with some of the group members before the concert.

      In Ernie’s case, he doesn’t come out until after the concert because he’s pacing himself as a tenor. Of course this means that there are all the more people waiting for him, which means lots of multi-tasking!

  3. Let me tell you about “the real Ernie”…

    Some time ago, at the dawn of my children’s interest in SGM, we all went to hear EH&SS, and to try – as much as was possible with 1,000 competitors – to speak to Ernie, Ryan, Doug, Timmy & Wayne after the concert.

    Next morning we were flying to our home town, we had taken in the one-off concert en route in a cross country journey. The kids were sprawling and catching up on their beauty sleep on the departure lounge benches.
    Just then a voice, way above their heads said, “Mornin’ guys, had you a good night?”
    The reality of being greeted by Ernie, live in the concourse, gave way to the disbelief that; he had recognized two teenagers from the auditorium the previous night. he swerved with his group through the benches to greet them, and wonder of wonders gathered the boys in to allow a picture with my kids as part of the EH&SS group shot.

    It cemented my kids belief in SGM, big-time and their respect for Ernie – as a person – is immense.

    [No employees of or professional associates with EH&SS are in any way connected with this tale :-)]

  4. Just to throw in my two cents, Devin McGlamery might be the nicest guy I’ve met at a table. In fact he was out from beyond the table and approached me as I was in the vicinity. Also Gordon Mote was very charming and nice. Both guys I appreciated interacting with!

    • I’ve found that as well—Devin’s very easy to talk to, very helpful and personable.

  5. I think it is important that they minister to people and try to make each person feel important. However, let me try this from another perspective too. They have tons of people all who want something from them. I imagine it is an admittedly much lesser, but still comparable feeling to Jesus having so many tugging at Him for healing. At the same time, there are some people who want it to be all about them. They don’t care if there are others who might want a word or autograph. In fact, sometimes perhaps, those who hog the most are the ones who have seen them and talked to them the most times.

    People should also realize that they need to sell the product to make a living (I imagine) and need to provide customer service for those wanting to buy merchandise and do so in a limited amount of time. Some people might give up on buying something if they stand there waiting for 5-10 minutes while someone hogs their time. Sometimes people think they own the performers and that they owe them something.

    People might not appreciate my statements, but I suspect some artists might secretly appreciate them. That is not to say they don’t want to socialize, but at times too maybe the one who is talking a lot to people isn’t helping with the work. I thought I would represent the other side of this.

    Now, let me tell you about my first time meeting the Oak Ridge Boys (2001). I was able to talk with them, but tried to be mindful of the people standing in line behind me. In fact, Richard Sterban the bass kept keeping the conversation he and I had going (from what I could tell). He seemed to enjoy talking low notes and bass singing with someone who had such an interest in it.

    Now, all the guys were great. I talked with William Lee the least I think because he is more quiet at times and I had less in common with (although I did have some questions and observations for him). In fact, he is one of the most fan friendly I hear (not that they all aren’t) and I regret I wasn’t more prepared with things to talk to him about. Joe, was fun and enjoyed my lp of him with the Keystones and even showed William Lee the funky clothes he was wearing on it. Duane answered every question I had and even went on about my knowledge and love for it.

    Okay, I got off on a tangent, but the thing is that I tried to be considerate of others and that is a lesson some need to learn. 🙂 (No one in mind, just an observation).

    • Great points, and you know I sometimes I think about the sheer exhaustion these performers must feel at the end of a concert run. I know what you’re getting at with the comparison to Jesus, even though it’s a bit unusual. It’s like these singers are constantly giving—giving their time, giving their energy and their strength—for the sake of the people who “want something from them.” And I think that this kind of constant giving of yourself could become an incredible drain. Then when you have the people who come to you with stories about their burdens and trials, it’s almost as though you’re taking on that burden with them. After a while that could get to be a heavy load.

  6. Tim Riley and Jay Parrack were two of the nicest guys a person would ever want to meet. Both of them lived on a more personal basis what they portrayed from the stage. Made an impact on me which I have not forgotten.

    J.D. Sumner was in person as he appeared on stage. Funny, personable, and somewhat acerbic. My wife still remembers shaking his hand when she was a high school senior, and J.D. saying (quite loudly), “Girl, you have a strong handshake. I like that.” Of course, he also called her down when she got up during one of his famous monnologues and by saying, “Young lady you could have taken care of that before you left home.” I had warned her about getting up; but to be comedically chastised by the great J.D. Sumner was worth it.

  7. I can personally vouch for Ernie’s “table manners” as well. This past year at the NQC, it was our lead singer’s first trip. His daughter did not get to come (she is 17 years old) because of school. She is a HUGE Ernie Haase fan. When our lead singer got to meet Ernie, he told Ernie how big of a fan that his daughter was and Ernie asked him if he could get in touch with her on his cell phone? Our lead singer called her up and said that someone wanted to talk to her and Ernie proceeded to carry on a conversation with her (one sided of course because the girl was SPEECHLESS which I don’t ever remember her being before or after this day! LOL!). Ernie took the time to do that and made her day. He is just a super classy guy and how could he not be, he learned from two of the classiest guys to ever step foot on stage at a Southern Gospel concert! Great post! Really enjoyed reading it!

    • I had the same thing at the NQC last year, as I placed a call to a FB friend who was not feeling well and had Ernie talk to her and he so graciously prayed with her on the phone…

    • I have a similar story from this past NQC. This was my mom’s first year to attend and we spent a lot of time walking around the exhibit hall, and she’d come with me as I went to the different booths to talk to the groups.

      Ernie and the guys, as always, were very friendly and I stood there conversing with Ernie about all things Cathedrals Tribute, my mom was on the phone with my youngest brother, who is in 6th grade and is a HUGE EHSS fan, and has been with us several times to see them in concert. Ernie asked Mom where “Little Man” was and she said he had to stay home because of school, and she was talking to him on the phone. Ernie asked to talk to him and had a five minute conversation with him, asking him how he was and just chatting it up!

      To top it all off, Ernie got one of the group pictures of the Cathedrals Tribute and got all the guys to sign it, put his signature on it with a note to my brother, and gave it to us to give to him when we got home. My brother was on cloud nine and has had that poster hanging on his wall ever since.

      • Great story Aaron! I love all these stories that have been coming out here. The rabble who frequent our local Blog That Shall Not Be Named can stick that in their collective pipes and smoke it.

      • You are encouraging smoking? 😉

      • I imagine NSGFYGG is only advocating it for Those Individuals!

      • I imagine they may not need my encouragement anyway.

  8. I was barely into college and working at a Christian bookstore when EH&SS began auditioning singers. I of course had no kind of demo or even my voice recorded anywhere, so I used my tape recorder and recorded myself singing a bass lead on a song and then singing bass to Ernie Haase’s “What a Difference a Day Makes.” Looking back it was super-poor quality and I would’ve been surprised if it even got listened to past the first three seconds.

    Not long after I sent the demo, I was surprised to get a call at work from Ernie Haase himself, thanking me for auditioning and actually genuinely talking to me. I was almost sure it was a friend playing a joke on me, but I went home to find that Ernie had called my house first (from Scott Fowler’s cell phone, which showed up on the caller ID) and, when told I was at work, asked for my work number and called me there.

    Of course, Poet Voices had already disbanded by then, giving EHSS one of the best basses available, so I didn’t stand a chance. But that was my first impression of Ernie Haase and I’ve not been let down since.

  9. I have been to approx. seven EH&SS concerts over the past few years. Every member of the group has always been gracious to me and never seemed to mind having photos made and signing autographs. Doug is especially sweet and always has a hug and kind word for me. He’s a real class act.

  10. Hey all.

    U know how rare it is for me to weigh in on any conversation. But I have to on this one topic. But this one is near and dear to my heart

    As far as I’m concerned everything we sing is either validated or disqualified by the way you treat and greet people before and after the show. Just 5 sec of your undivided attention can make all the difference in the world to some hurting heart.

    There will always be those who may abuse their access and may not know how to use their camera phone 🙂 but all in all this is what we as EHSS feed off of and that is the fellowship of believers.

    Remember, we are not perfect….. We just have a microphone. We are walking and singing by faith too. But to all my SGM peeps. To Whom Much Us given MUCH is required. Walk worthy of your calling is what Paul told Timothy.

    Onwards and Upwards!
    Ernie

    • And THIS is why Ernie Haase will ALWAYS be considered a class act in my book.

    • Great post, Ernie. BTW, my sig is quartet-man, but I am a church music director and although I have sung in groups before, I have always been involved at the church level (as have the group members), so I am speaking from the perspective of a fan (have never recorded a project) and not as someone at a table. 😀

    • EHSS guys are so good to their fans on facebook too. They make us a big part of their life on the road. We are all family thanks to them being so open to all of us crazy fans. We just love them!:)

    • Way to go dude. Nice post. 🙂

      • Oh, and way to go Taylor for landing a comment from Ernie on one of your first posts!

      • I can’t wait to hear the reaction from TGIF!

      • Josh – unlike a few of us, they don’t quite *live* online!

        I am looking forward to hearing what happens when they next boot the computer up. (Actually, I wish I could literally hear!)

      • When Mom and I saw Ernie’s comment, we started calling the others: “Ernie commented! Ernie commented!”. Caleb came at a full sprint from the living room, Ben and Sam ran from the kitchen, and the others from who knows where! A stampede of 14 legs rushed to the computer desk, and yelps of excitement were emitted from the family. Once the chattering had quieted and everyone was settled, I proceeded to read it out loud. What a treat! (Does that provide enough “scope for the imagination”?)

        And, yes, we don’t “live” on computer, though it could be very tempting to, especially here on SGBlog. (BTW: We think several of you must have permanent living addresses here! 😉 ) Everything in moderation, you know! 🙂

        -Taylor for TGF

      • Hey, Josh, who’s “TGIF”? Isn’t that a restaurant? 😆 (Sorry, just giving you a hard time!)

        -T for TGF

      • Ummmm….oops. 😉

      • TGF – yes, that does provide a decent amount of scope for the imagination!

        My job involves me being online pretty much all day – I have been online much less at jobs that did not require it (or required the opposite!)

      • Daniel,

        We’re glad you do what you do…whatever you do online all day! 🙂 Thanks.

        Now you others, what’s your excuse for being online all day?? 😉

        -TGF

      • Hey YGG, just mulling over your comment about Ernie posting a comment on one of our first posts…it wasn’t our post necessarily that “drew him out”, but as he said, it was just a subject near and dear to his heart.

        -Taylor for TGF

      • Well, that’s true. But you picked a very good topic and wrote thoughtfully about it. 🙂

    • We love you Ernie! Anyone can listen to your music on the radio or on cds, but going to concerts, meeting you, and connecting personally with you guys is what takes our love and appreciation for EHSS to another level. You guys are becoming so successful and I pray you will keep the humility you have now. Stay classy!!

    • Ernie, you and every member of the EHSS Team “walk-the-walk” with integrity and class.

      Your unwavering generous spirit personifies the greatest Commandment,”Love one another…”

      May your life always cast a great light onto His pathway reminding us all to love as Jesus loved ~

      Keep the Faith ~
      Nancy

    • Thanks, Ernie, for stopping by. We appreciated reading your thoughts on this subject and your perspective on “table manners”. What a neat comment to sum it all up! Your attitude is a good example for all groups.

      -TGF

    • to be able to see and talk with all of you before, during intermission and after the concerts is what I fell in love with the first time I saw EHSS, now nearly 2 years ago. you are all such gracious, caring, giving, wonderful individuals, who are using your music to spread the word of the Lord, and that is what we all love about EHSS. Thank you so much for doing what you do and for your families for supporting you all the way. God Bless you all

    • Greeting the fans before, during intermission, and after the concerts is what I fell in love with nearly 2 years ago when I saw EHSS for the first time. you are all such gracious, caring, loving, wonderful individuals who love spreading the word of the Lord through your music. that is why we all love EHSS. thank you for doing what you do and also thanks to your families for supporting you all the way. God Bless you all

    • Nice post Ernie, and – on a side issue – Ernie Haase droppin by here, without an assumed identity, lends weight to the argument for keeping Daniel’s Den a place where honesty and integrity, with politeness, prevails.

      • Yes – unless you read every single comment, you do not realize how often singers drop by!

        And really, even then, I’ll frequently have conversations with singers who have never posted a comment, but demonstrate by an in-person comment on a recent story that they do indeed read.

        So I have great reasons for keeping this “a place where honesty and integrity, with politeness, prevails.”

      • I read every single comment. 😯

  11. THE KINGSMEN AND TRIBUTE QUARTET ARE CLASS ACTS. THEY WILL TAKE THE TIME TO TALK TO YOU. RAY WILL STAND THERE AND TAKE PICTURES TILL YOUR CAMERA RUNS OUT OF FILM. GARY CASTRO OF TRIBUTE IS VERY DOWN TO LEVEL PERSON. AT THE LAST CONCERT, HE TALKED TO PEOPLE TILL THERE QUESTIONS WERE ANSWERED. HE WAS ALOT OF FUN.

  12. Ernie, Doug, Devin, Ian and the entire team are all so kind and attentive, making us fans feel special. I love being at their concerts and especially being able to speak to them on a one-to-one basis. This is a part of what makes them just THE BEST.

  13. Of course it goes without saying that God knows what is posted here….that makes it reason enough (no ehss pun internded!) to keep it decent and upright whether a singer stops by or not!

  14. Reminds me of a few times….

    J.D. Sumner & theStamps…. Ed Hill was just about the friendliest ever…great to chat with him.

    Legacy Five…I got to have a nice conversation with Frank Seamans, talking about tenor singing….he gave much more than a curt reply. Also Tim Parton was very kind, discussing song books and TTBB arrangments etc.

    Mystery Men….Ed Crawford took the time to talk with me, very nice conversation.
    All of these are examples of relatively small input from an artist making a big impression on the ‘fan’.

  15. Did we mention when six-year old Sam asked his question, “Was that the real Ernie?”?

    Well, on the drive home after the concert, I looked back at Sam sitting in his car seat. He was deep in thought with a very concerned look on his face. I asked him what was wrong. THAT is when he asked his question.

    Can you believe he sat through the whole entire concert, shook hands with him, and listened to Ernie talk with us, all the while not knowing if this guy was the “real Ernie” or a fake! Poor little guy…it took us some time to convince him otherwise.

    He just couldn’t understand how Ernie could be in a new group without George, Glen, Scott, and Roger. Makes sense, doesn’t it? At least to a six year-old! 🙂

    -Mom for TGF

  16. Well, I am either off work (and near the computer) or at church and peak every now and then (lunch or to clear my head from working hard on arrangements, filing etc.) My previous job and certain days don’t allow me time to be on much some days (except morning or late evening).

    • I’m not on the computer all day. Just from 7:30 to 1:00! I’m a receptionist who doesn’t always have a lot keeping me busy. And while I do have a different mailing address, you probably could get in touch with me faster here! 😆

    • Q-M and Amy,

      Thanks for sharing…confession is good for the soul! 🙂

      We’re glad to “chat” with you all; thanks for the warm responses!

      -TGF

  17. Michael English is an amazing guy..he actually pointed to me from the stage last saturday from the stage..i was sitting frontrow(centerstage), and when the lights allowed it, he spotted me..pointed to acknowledge my presence. When he left the stage for intermission, while he was making his way down, he turned around again pointed at me, and motioned to me, in a fashion come and meet me backstage. I went out for a few minutes to have a smoke. He then texted me…giving me the location. I walked back in scanning the place…i saw him peeking thru a door..and he sent a security-guy who was guarding that door..to get me. I had a wonderful personal talk with this guy i admired for a long time..and from what he told me..that admiration was a two-way street..he made me feel like i was the celebrity…he’s humble,funny..and genuine. I will never forget what he did for me. EH&SS are great guys, so were JD and The Stamps..Hoppers..and Russ Taff also very nice.

  18. I too have had a wonderful experience meeting the SSQ guys – Ernie, Tim, Doug, and Ryan. I’ve also met David and Roy.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t had the experience of meeting the new guys (Devin and Ian) – yet.

    Every concert I’ve been to, they were SO nice. They seem genuinely interested in what you say and willing to take a pic with you.

    Roy – such a jokester. Had me laughing.

    David – he took the time to explain the equipment board

    Ryan – So sweet. I’m 5’11 and I think Ryan said he was 6’5. Trying to stand on his tip-toes to me much taller than me. Too funny.

    Tim – Also sweet. He was the first SSQ I met. He was at a product table by himself. He was so kind to explain the different products available. He asked me where I was from and if I had good seats. After one concert, I hugged him good-bye (I knew I wouldn’t see them again for a while.)

    Doug – Super sweet. We could talk sports ALL Day!

    Ernie – Last, but not least. So, so nice. I had only met him once; but the next concert I attended, he knew my name. I was so amazed. He talks with you and is really interested in what you say. But I want to mention his wife Lisa too. Back in 2005, I was having a rough time after losing both my Mom and Brother within a month of each other. She had recently lost her Dad George. I wrote her a letter and she responded back to me in a letter. Between that and seeing the guys on TV and finally meeting them in person – that REALLY helped lift my spirits.

    I really appreciate these guys.

    I hope to meet Ian and Devin one day (when I start to feel better – soon I pray!)

  19. When I was 16 I wrote roger bennett a letter asking for advise. He wrote back a detailed letter on Cathedral letterhead/stationary! When I saw that envelope in the mailbox I about passed out! Lol

    All these years later I still have it and wouldn’t give it up for anything. Sg collectables don’t mean much to me, but that does!

  20. I think the artists who interact the best with fans are the artists who haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be a fan themselves.

    They remember what it was like to finally talk with a musical hero and do the best they can to replicate that for todays fans.