How Others See Us

Sometimes, the historical inaccuracies concerning Southern Gospel are frustrating. But as often as not, the mistakes are so egregious that it is amusing. Take, for example, Pandora’s Kingsmen biography:

[They] managed a career that eventually spanned three decades (’50s, ’60s, and ’70s). Recordings continued to flow, mostly gospel favorites, but the King’s Men’s real strength seemed to lie in their performances; they are best remembered for booming tenors and resounding baritones propelling a genuine gospel prowess. The group continued into the ’70s, with new members replacing retiring King’s Men along the way.

That is only an excerpt; the full biography is here. (In fairness to Pandora, the biography was not written by a Pandora staffer; it was outsourced to Rovi.)

Just for comparision, here’s an accurate Kingsmen history.


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21 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Sounds like it was written by someone for whom English was not their first language. I find the choice of adjectives interesting…”booming” would not be how I would describe a Kingsmen tenor. 🙂

    • That’s the phrase that got me laughing. I was wondering if the writer was bored at the end of a long day, using a thesaurus to find random adjectives he hadn’t used earlier in the day!

      (I also wondered if he thought Ray Dean Reese was a baritone.)

  2. 🙂 That review gave me a good chuckle, Daniel! “Booming Tenor” 🙂

    I have wondered – Has anyone heard the latest Kingsmen combo in person? If so, your thoughts?
    If what I heard recently on a couple of youtube clips is any indication, they may have a stellar lineup.

    The two clips I saw were “The Judgment”, (which is powerful) and “Without Jesus” (which demonstrates their very smooth harmony)

    Here’s to hoping it’s a comeback for them. I’ve been a die hard Kingsmen fan since I first heard them with Ernie Phillip, Jim Hammill, Squire Parsons, & Ray Reese. (Chattanooga Live is still my #2 favorite Kingsmen recording!)

  3. The worst I’ve seen have a common source at http://www.allmusic.com (now evidently “by rovi”), which was the source of this Kingsmen bio.

    You’d think someone who cares enough to take the time to write a group history would also care enough to do an adequate amount of research to get the facts at least CLOSE to reality.

    I have to wonder if it isn’t deliberate. It takes a talented writer to write a truly BAD bio…

    • It would be more charitable to go with Brian’s guess that the person isn’t a first-language speaker. 🙂

      • I’ve got some experience with Chinese people, and I will say that some of this language looks pretty similar to what I’ve seen when the Chinese try to translate into English.

      • I’m not so convinced that it’s of foreign origin. The sentence structure is often reasonably good. Sure, there are some weird adjectives at times, but the nouns and verbs are usually in the correct spots. I see a few spelling errors, but no more than my local newspaper.

        It’s just the facts that are consistently, colossally wrong.

        Maybe it’s computer generated.

      • Weird adjectives can be a good sign that it is being translated “literally” from another language, or at least being written by a person who doesn’t have a firm grasp of connotation.

    • For example:
      “The Florida Boys are a celebrated Southern gospel group that was formed originally by J.G. Whitfield in 1947 as the Gospel Melody Quartet. By 1955, the Melody Quartet was gone and The Florida Boys were on the scene to stay — and stay.”

      Not terrible so far, right? They got the founder correct and the original name. Let’s continue…

      “Some of the early members were lead Les Beasley, baritone and guitarist Glen Allred, tenor Allen Cox, bassist Gene McDonald, and pianist Derrell Sewart. After some personnel changes, members included lead Josh Garner, Tommy Watwood, bassist Buddy Liles, and tenor Jerry Trammell.”

      Ouch!

      http://www.allmusic.com/artist/florida-boys-mn0000064578

      • Good grief!

      • Check out the link for another laugh. They have a photo of a recording by Gary Stewart called “Brand New” and reference a Florida Boys album by that title. If you then click the Brand New link in the Florida Boys article, it goes to a page about the recording by Gary Stewart.

      • Yeah, All Music’s on the Cathedrals was bad too. I tried correcting it once, but they never responded. I believe they called Glen Payne the group’s “alto” and might have used bassist again for Younce.

  4. And to complicate things even more, in addition to the gospel group we know -with a myriad of members over the years- there was also The Kingsmen rock group from the sixties (famous for “Louie, Louie”); and also, there a great pop group during the 30s-50s that sang popular songs and hymns, recorded for Decca, and sang in films.

  5. What makes this story even more amazing is the fact that I saw this bio about a year or so ago and have sent them a updated bio. (Twice).

  6. (Clarification) I have emailed allmusic not Pandora. YET.

    • Frustrating indeed! When a group manager isn’t allowed to get the word out that, well, the group DIDN’T disband forty years ago…

  7. I gotta add one; allmusic.com said of the Gaither Vocal Band that it was founded in 1991 by Gaither along with Michael English and Mark Lowry.

    • My word!

    • Oh yeah, I think I saw that back in the day too. Like I intimated before, trying to correct them does no good.

      • After two years, I finally got Google Maps to acknowledge that a road around the cemetery at our church had no name.

        I guess it’s like the lady in the bible who kept pestering the guy to help her. If you keep it up, eventually they will help just to get you to shut up! LOL

      • Google Maps has been improving their response time. A few months ago, a turn they said to take to get to a Perrys concert didn’t exist, and they had it fixed within a month or so of my report.