On the Minor Leagues: Discussion

I am thrilled to see that Saturday’s post provoked an interesting discussion. Thank you to Tom, natesings, and Bob for your insights.

Since I’d like to respond to several of the comments, and since I don’t really have any other ideas for a post today, I think I’ll just reply to a few comments in today’s post.

First off, natesings offered a different reason for group turnover:

I would think that a reason for the low turnover in a CCM group vs. the high turnover in a SG group has something to do with the amount of time on the road. The typical SG group tours Thu-Sun every week of the year except for a few weeks vacation. Then there are times when they are gone 20 days or so, for example a West Coast tour. CCM groups don’t have nearly as demanding of a schedule. I can see how that could get old really quick.

Nate, there is a lot to what you say. Since you put it as “a reason” and not “the reason,” I’d have to agree with you. I’m sure you would readily acknowledge that there are other reasons, too, one of which is SG group longevity. Have you ever heard of a CCM group lasting fifty years? And yet many of the successful SG groups will last for forty or fifty years. Since few people want to stay with a group for their entire lifetime, this increases the chances that the group will have personnel changes over their half-century history.

Bob said:

Daniel – I see your point, but I think the comparison is somewhat flawed. I can think of a number of Contemporary Christian groups that started as the praise and worship band in somewhat larger churches. Singing together for multiple services every Sunday morning, and being asked to do special music for retreats, holiday concerts and other church activities tend to develop excellent musicians. So in that sense, churches are the ‘minor leagues’, but can often be more demanding than singing in a traveling group doing a set playlist.

It is also useful to note that when CCM groups break up, the members end up back in the church as worship leaders – back in the ‘minor leagues’, so to speak…

Tom responded:

Bob, very interesting comparison. You’re certainly correct about some of the CCM groups. One difficulty, though, is that CCM is such a huge collective of styles that only one slice of the CCM pie fits what you’ve described. The praise/worship movement fits what you’ve described aptly. Maybe a few singer/songwriter types do as well. But CCM also has a ton of soloists and singer/songwriters (much more so than southern gospel), and a bunch of them are not involved in local church worship teams. You’ve also got the rock bands (and a whole range of diversity in style), which may form among friends in a youth group but are frequently not involved in organized worship. And don’t forget the bands that want as little to do with organized churches as possible (the “we’re just Christians in a band, not a Christian band” types). I’d be surprised if the “local church worship team as farm league for CCM” makes up much more than 10% of the overall CCM pie, so I’d say Daniel’s comparison is largely validated.

Tom and Bob raise some very interesting points. It is a valid point to note that there is more of a minor league in Praise and Worship than in other CCM sub-genres.

All Christian genres have their minor leagues and their personnel turnover, to an extent. But no other Christian genre, to my knowledge, has as structured and defined of a minor-league system as you will find in Southern Gospel.

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