Fan Awards: Song of the Year

It’s still too early after NQC for the news flow to start back up. So here’s another NQC-related thought I had over the weekend:

It’s a little odd that possibly 2007’s most popular song (“I Can Pray”) was disqualified on a technicality, but the winning song (“Look For Me”) is a song that the Kingsmen introduced 35 years ago and the winning group (Booth Brothers) recorded some seven years ago.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting a conspiracy; I know Singing News bases its rules on radio airplay. As I understand, “I Can Pray” was apparently singled at the wrong time to be qualified. But should rules that produce a result this incongruous perhaps be reconsidered?

(Keep suggestions constructive. The past is past; focus on the future.)

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27 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. I’m happy for the Booth Brothers’ win in this category, as what was easily the best of the 10 songs nominated won the award. But far as “I Can Pray” is concerned, I believe its disqualification is just more good old southern gospel politics. The Dove Brothers are one of NQC’s most popular quartets, as well as a headliner at most any southern gospel concert these days, yet they don’t seem to be considered to be at the top of the gospel music world or gospel music’s social ladder. Those who don’t think that politics and recognition in gospel music don’t mix are full of baloney.

  2. When there are qualification rules that are already set and a group or record company sends a song to radio outside of those dates, how can the song’s disqualification be politics? I agree that I Can Pray was a great song, but there have to be some rules or these awards would be chaos!

  3. #2 – I’m certainly not saying it’s politics. I’m just saying that rules that permit the one and not the other might be worth reconsidering.

  4. Crossroads has been around a long time and should know the game very well. As a company – their artists have received many Singing News awards over the years.

    A novel thought – perhaps the CD and single were released without awards in mind… The DBQ seem to release one label project a year. I have not looked specifically – but I buy all their projects and this seems to be the case.

    Shunned… Not likely. Perhaps just poor timing.


  5. Moderator’s Note: I just pulled a comment that went over the line. We have every reason to believe Singing News properly followed their eligibility rules; the question at hand is if those rules should perhaps be reconsidered in this category.

  6. i voted for what we needed by the kingdom heirs 🙂 it was my favorite song on the ballot!

  7. I like “Holy Shore,” but I think I voted for “What We Needed,” too. It’s just an exceptional song! 🙂

  8. I agree 100% with #2.

  9. “I Can Pray” was allowed for nomination last year (2007) even though it had not started charting. The rule is that your song must be released from April-March of the year’s fan awards. Unfortunately, “I Can Pray” was released in November 2006- not between April 2007-March 2008. The Dove Brothers did have a song possible for nomination this year called “I’m Gonna Make It.” I personally disagree with this rule because the McKameys’ song, “I Will Trust You, Lord”, was nominated last year for Song of the Year, but was released in December of 2005, making it eligible for nomination only in 2006- not 2007. If “I Can Pray” had been eligible for nomination, it would have been my vote and eventually the Favorite Song of the Year for 2008. In my opinion, I believe that either the Kingdom Heirs’ nominee (“What We Needed”) or Greater Vision’s nominee (“It Means Just What It Says”) was the strongest song nominated. I voted for the latter but would have also been pleased with either song winning the award. Can anyone explain why the Booth Brothers released a song from 4-5 years ago to radio, when they had fresh material from 3-4 table cds? Right now I can think of several possible radio hits for them from these cds, but their idea of releasing not only an older song but also a song they recorded several years back seems like a question yet to be answered.

  10. #9 – Well, it did get them song of the year … and I went out and bought a live version of it off of iTunes. I love that song and had never heard a professional recording of it.

    Maybe the rules should be relaxed to allow for songs released earlier but not yet hitting voters’ radar screens. It takes a while for some songs to climb. Or maybe a different criteria altogether should be used – when the song charts at a certain level, for example.

    Why is there even a need for anything more than “natural selection,” so to speak? If a song garners enough nominations to make it onto the ballot, couldn’t they just let folks vote on it? Just throwing that out there, although it might not be practical.

  11. Thank you Andrew S…that was the point that I had feebly tried to make and you explained it much better than I did.

  12. There has to be set parameters. If the rules calls for singles released for airplay between April – March; then only those songs that qualify can be considered.

    If rules are relaxed to allow one song; where does it stop. It would get too confusing and messy. Maybe the solution is to not have awards; that all artists are doing a good job. (or not. I don’t know. Too late in the day.)

  13. The fact that the Kingsmen released that song previously should have no bearing on this award. The most popular songs for the Dove Bros, “Didn’t It Rain” and “Get Away Jordan” were recorded long ago as well. The fact that the Dove Bros song didn’t qualify this time is unfortunate. The Booth Bros album “Pure Southern Gospel” from which this song was released was a table project for the Booths while they were in between labels. In fact, Michael will tell you that even though this album was never released to stores, only sold through the Booths at concerts and their website, it has sold more copies than their label releases. I believe the song selection and the simplicity at which they were approached makes this album so attractive. Of course the signature Booth Bros harmony seals the deal and by putting that touch on such a great, yet simple song is what put it over the top this time. Should the rules be changed? Nah, I really don’t think it has that much affect on the awards to make a difference. Peoples opinions of the awards will always be just that…opinions. Thats why its the “Fan” awards, chosen by the fans as to their favorites, not chosen by a rigid, rule ridden board somewhere. So in the end someone will always be upset or think their favorite group got shorted “politically” somehow, when in fact, it was just more fans voted for the other.

  14. To answer Daniel’s question, I believe it would be better if the rules were modified.

    My suggestion to Singing News would be to keep the rule as it is, but allow an exception to the rule for any song that appeared in the Top 10 from April-March of the preceding year.

    – – –
    As for “I Can Pray,” Andrew S. is precisely correct. Crossroads should have pushed for a nomination for the song in 2007, but if you go back to that issue of Singing News and look at their ad, you’ll see that they didn’t.
    – – –
    Regarding Amy’s suggestion (#10) to let whatever fans choose take its course with no eligibility restrictions, I think older songs winning would become the norm if you went that route. By it’s very nature, the award already runs at least seven months behind. Adopting an anything goes rule would permit nominations for songs that remain popular like “Four Days Late” and “Shoutin’ Time,” even though the initial recordings of those songs have been around for years.

  15. So you really do think a plurality of fans would vote for the old ones? I’m not arguing; you may very well be right. I can imagine that becoming “trendy” … ” ‘My Name Is Lazarus’ has won Song of the Year for 10 years in a row now” … hmmm.

  16. “Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet” was included on the Singing News cd, “Just Call It Southern, Vol. 6”, which was released in 2005. So the recording of the song is at the least 4 years old. The project was originally released right after their signing with Spring Hill Music and the release of their self-titled debut cd on that label. So it wasn’t in between record companies that they released that cd. Springside (Paul & Shelia Heil’s Southern Gospel Music store) has the cd listed in their Autumn 2008 catalog with different cd graphics than the first. The only table projects the Booth Brothers released between record labels was “Harmony”, “Trails to Paradise”, and “Carry On”. The last of which was voted favorite album in this year’s Singing News Fan Awards. Can someone explain how the fans voted the song for Favorite Song of the Year, but it only reached #16 on the charts? I’ve never heard of a Song of the Year winner that didn’t reach the top ten on the charts as well. Shouldn’t the charts show the radio contribution to the song becoming a fan favorite?

  17. I think any song that reaches the top 80 chart in the voting year should be eligible, regardless of release date.

  18. To Andrew S, there will never be a correlation between the radio charts and the fan favorites simply because the radio charts do not accurately represent fan requests for airplay. The charting system is too screwed up. I think the fan awards is probably a more accurate measurement of what the fans want. Thus, I believe DBM would be correct in his surmise that we would see more of the older songs getting votes should the rules be changed.

    Also the Booth Brothers Pure Southern Gospel cd was not released on Spring Hill records. It was released after they signed with Spring Hill, and after their debut project, but they had an agreement that allowed them to still record independently for table projects. Originally it was a table project available only from the Booth Bros. and as far as I know thats the way it still is. Springside Marketing shows the same graphics, just a different picture for the cd cover. The original cover picture is still shown on the BB website. The cd was released in 2004.

  19. Another change I’d like to see made is waiting until the second ballot before voting on the Song Of The Year.

    That way, the eligibility period could be June-May rather than April-March.

    There is no need to vote on the SOTY on the first ballot, because the SOTY category is not narrowed down to five from the initial ten.

    The reason for voting later is that a song hitting the top of the charts in the first five months of the year might actually have a chance to win in September…thus making the “Song Of 2008” or whatever year a song that actually got airplay during that year rather than the year before.

  20. I like DJPhil’s idea better than my initial idea. Throw out the release date consideration and make the chart the sole criteria for eligibility. That way, there’s no question.

    The fans have no idea about release dates. The current voting requirement expects fans to know something they can’t readily confirm.

    This is a Singing News award presentation, so there’s nothing wrong with tying the eligibility to the chart…very loosely, though…so that fans can express their opinion without carbon copying the chart.

  21. Can’t you just accept that the Booth Brothers won it and let it be. Everytime I go to a concert that is all I hear how much everybody loves this group. It may have been recorded years ago but everyone agrees that they sing it better than anyone. After all they walked off with 6 awards. That should tell you guys something. God is blessing these young men so much !!!!


  22. None of us is challenging the fact that the Booth Brothers won. We’re just discussing the detail—perhaps an arcane detail to most, but one that can be quite important—of whether the eligibility rules should be revised.

  23. Using DJPhil’s suggestion. How would that work? I’m drawing a blank. When the initial ballots come out for SOTY, aren’t there songs already listed on the ballot to choose from? Or is that left blank and the fans fill in the song they would like. I hope it’s the latter. You can’t list every song that reached the top 80 during the voting period?

  24. It is the latter; there isn’t any predetermined list.

    No, I don’t believe you are allowed to list every song that reached top 80 during the charting period—only the ones that were initially sent to radio during that period.

  25. #6 I wouldn’t say they sing it better than anyone else…that is an opinion. I actually prefer the Kingsmen version.

  26. Sorry I meant #21

  27. I have always felt that the voting for SOTY starts too early. With internet voting, etc there is no need for it to start in about April for the convention awards time in September. Voting should begin in July with the final voting in August.