Post of the Day: enLighten calls for excellence

Marlin Taylor, manager of SiriusXM’s enLighten, gets new CD submissions constantly. However, he notes, more than half of these are of such a low quality that he can’t select even a single song for radio airplay. So he recently posted a challenge to artists to strive for excellence; there is always room for improvement.

Even if you believe you are already a great singer – which may be true – or a group with superb voices and blend, I can safely say there’s room for improvement … especially if you’re thinking of recording. If not, why would the Booth Brothers call on the services of Nick Bruno? Or other top groups depend on Wayne Haun or Lari Goss? …

The next time Legacy Five has an opening … will you be ready and qualified to fill that position? That’s the level of performance we’re expecting to hear when you send us your next recording. Not only are we here at enLighten depending on it … the Lord is depending on it … and the Southern Gospel music industry is depending on it!

Check out the whole post here.

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24 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 saw that article yesterday and thought it was very well written. I can’t imagine the volume of bad music that Martin has waded through.

    • I, on the other hand, can, having experienced the same issue qualitatively though not quantitatively! 🙂

  2. I agree 100%. Artists should be more objective when evaluating whether their music is airplay worthy. I have talked with many people who get upset when even our local radio station will not play their music during the gospel hour….and it is an AM station. You will not hear sub par music from secular stations for the most part. I try to think of the casual listener. “Would someone who is not a Christian stop and listen.” We need to put our best foot forward for God no matter what the issue. I think even Enlighten could improve the quality of the music they put on the air.

    • You know, I’ve spent quite a bit of time listening to enLighten over the past week. I think that there are very, very few artists they play that are poorly produced that (all questions of fame aside) I would be inclined to pull them from the playlist based on quality alone. I suspect that many of the people who say they could move to a higher quality are thinking in terms of a higher percentage of the time being taken up by A/B tier groups.

  3. Yes, I listen to enLighten daily and they play a lot of really good music. I do think they could improve on what they play though. A higher percentage of play from A/B tier groups would be a very good start.

    These groups are A/B tier groups for a reason.

    • I agree! There have been times in the recent weeks i’ve flipped on enlighten and sat through some pretty bad stuff. One day it was about 3 awful bluegrass type numbers in a row, a regional group that did not sound great at all, and a very cheesy southern gospel tune about singing sg. My immediate thought was, I hope a new listener did not stumble across the station during this block of music. It could have just been a random selection from the computer

      Overall though, I am happy with enlighten and am thankful that Marlin wants the station to be the best it can be! I want enlighten to be around for many many many more years to come and know that the station can only grow better and better!

      • Yes – the stretches of a couple of weak songs in a row are probably enLighten’s weakest point.

      • Yes, I must have been listening in that stretch too. The song about singing SG was the channel changing point for me.

  4. The quote from Marlin that resonated the most with me is when he said:

    “half of all the CD’s we receive do not contain even one song that we find to be appropriate for play on enLighten …with many others barely delivering a single selection that’s worthy of being included on the playlist.”

    God deserves better than that.

    • Every Christian should sing God’s praises.

      God deservees our best – but, depending on how good our personal best is, sometimes it should stay in the local church!

      • Yes, thank you for that comment. The church is (should be) an excellent “breeding ground” for talent, and also, should be a safe environment for those starting out. My son is an example, taking percussion and piano, etc etc. The church can allow one to perfect and improve one’s music.
        There is however, the whole matter of discerning where one’s gifts may actually lie…… for some, it may be ok to listen to substandard music. My wife has perfect pitch. A blessing and a curse!!

      • Yep. I can’t personally fathom why one would want to travel around 250-300 date/year, but somehow we’ve developed the mentality that if we’re singing ‘for Jesus’, then just get a bus & hit the road!

  5. There is a huge southern gospel radio station that I am in the listening area of. During the mornings and afternoons the programming is performed by the local DJs. It is a 50000 watt station and they carry a lot of advertisers and a lot of listeners. The music is so horrendous at times during the mornings and afternoons that it is almost comedic. I was listening this morning and thinking I do not even know how this is serious music. It almost makes me ashamed to say I listen to Southern gospel music. Fortunately for me this morning I was able to turn the station off and listen to Enlighten. I think Enlighten is doing a great job and they are always making an effort to improve.

  6. FINALLY!!!!! A Southern Gospel media that really wants and expects quality!!!!!

    Great stand !

  7. A true professional can recognize their weaknesses as much as their strengths. The key, is to maximize the God given strengths and not to PROVE what the weaknesses are.

    This requires humility. It also requires one to recognize the difference in passion and calling. If God has “Called” He will “equip”. Passion will not make up for the lack of ability.

    • I agree wholeheartedly

    • Amen, amen, amen!
      Thank you, Michael for saying that.
      Some people say “God’s called me to sing”. But they are the people who hardly care about even trying to make their performances better. This is a frusteration to me!

      Case in point, our group sings Palmetto State Quartet’s song “He’s Real”. This, hands down, is the smoothest lead I’ve ever heard Aaron McCune do. It just couldn’t have been done better by anyone at any other time. If they didn’t use that particular cut, and re-recorded some sections later, it just wouldn’t have flowed like the final product does. It’s just simply a wonderful rendidtion of a wonderful song. How it just flows really catches my ear.
      Our group sings this song also. I filled in for our bass singer one time, and decided to listen to the original PSQ demo before the night I would sing it. I knew our rendidtion had rough edges, but after re-accquainting myself with McCune & Palmetto State’s cut, I realizied just how bad we do it. In the chorus, the tenor is supposted to lead it, but our version has the bass singer carrying the lead all the way. It’s TOO HIGH!
      Listening to us sing it is like listening to robots. Too mechanical. “God is not dead, He’s alive and well….”
      No flow, bounce, or rythym to it.
      I say that to say this…… on the way to this particular sing, I mentioned that we don’t do it like Palmetto did, concerning the high part leading the chorus. I got a reply along the lines of ‘but the way we do it has always worked for us.’
      No, it doens’t really work for us, it’s BAD!!! People may sit in the audience, and respectfully sit through it. Some can see past our group’s imperfections while we sing it, and be blessed. And, yes, I praise GOD for that. HIS word will not go out, and return void!
      Yet, when you are a singer, in a group, or as a soloist, you’ve got to focus on more than just the message……. the way you present the message is CRITICAL for a gospel music minister to study, cirtique, and strive to improve. You want to keep the audience’s attention. It’s good if you get booked somewhere, but are you good enough to get booked back in? If you are asked back, will there be less people that come, the same amount, or will people tell their friends “You’ve GOT to come with me to see this group !” ?
      Legitimate questions we’ve all got to look at objectivley and honestly.

      • Thats the humility part. Proud of ya!! We ALL have weaknesses.

  8. The station I work for is a big Country station and I do Southern Gospel on Sunday Mornings. If you play something that is not quality, they will call you in on the carpet.

  9. Here’s the big problem with quality in SG….many gospel fans have a much different definition of “quality;” they are willing to let a lot of stuff slide by (if they even notice it), so why should SG artists even bother? If sub-par will sell, then they still make their money.

    • They should bother because they are singing for God, not just to “make their money”.

  10. Back to the original concept of radio play, are your radio singles, and other songs, a high-enough calliber to draw people to come see you at a nearby concert?
    Honestly, Triumphant didn’t really get my attention till’ “When The Trumpet Sounds” was released. Yes, they had good songs before, especially “The Great I Am Still Is”. But, there’s a certain level of quallity that I’ve been hearing, more often than not, in their relases since “When The Trumpet Sounds”.
    On the contrary, there’s a group that has had good songs, good singing, and good mixes, that’s been on radio for quite awhile. But recently, we’ve been hearing them more consistently. Their recent single, tragically, doesn’t carry the level of quallity of their previous releases. I made the comment earlier this week that, though my choice of words weren’t quite as grace and tact filled as what I’m writing right now, they sound like a bad regional group.
    Today, it’s like it’s about quantity, not quallity. We need to reverse the trend: everyone will benefit from it.

  11. This was something I just stumbled on while browsing…and as a former DJ for a Southern Gospel station based in a small Virginia town I have to say we got in some REALLY LOUSY stuff. My husband hosted a bluegrass show (live) on the FM side and I would get him to screen CDs with me at times. He finally told me not to ask for his help anymore. They were THAT BAD 90% of the time. Being a vocalist myself (who was blessed with perfect pitch, which is a double-edged sword) I would never even release something to anyone that wasn’t the finest I could do. I’ve had SG artists call me up CURSING me out because I hadn’t put their CD into rotation! That is just unbelievable, but it has happened. I urge all amateur and lower-tier groups to utilize their funds wisely and get a quality producer and work out of the best-equipped and engineered studio you can. Even if this is not your bread and butter (and face it, for most A & B tier groups, it is…) you’re still representing the Kingdom of God. Make the music worthy of a King!