Six-Year Anniversary Contest: Three(?) Degrees of Separation

The Idea

Wikipedia defines the concept of Six Degrees of Separation as “the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of ‘a friend of a friend’ statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer.”

Yesterday, reader Friday Night Revival suggested turning the concept into a contest: Take two people and see how many connections you need to connect one with the other. The person with the fewest total connections wins! Since our genre is so tightly knit that internal pairings would be quite easy, we’ll pair Southern Gospel celebrities with non-Southern Gospel celebrities.

To make things even more exciting, we’ll have a tie-breaker with the opposite goal. (More on that shortly.)

The winner will receive the following CDs: The Soldier’s Song (Squire Parsons), Forever Changed (Kingdom Heirs), The Song In My Heart (Mark Bishop), From the Smokies (Inspirations).

The Rules

To have a level playing field, here are a couple of rules:

  • Every connection must be a person (i.e., “both have been featured in Singing News,” “both recorded with Daywind,” and “both appeared at NQC 1987” don’t count).
  • Bill and Gloria Gaither cannot be used as connections. 🙂 [EDIT: Just to clarify something which may not have been clear enough from the first two: Neither can joint appearances at a Gaither Homecoming video or concert. Joint appearances on an artist recording, i.e. as a guest vocalist, do, however, count.]
  • Group members used as connections must have been in the group at the same time.
  • Any questions over the validity of a connection will be settled at the sole discretion of the staff.
  • All entries must be submitted by 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time next Monday evening. The winner will be announced Tuesday morning.

The Examples

When submitting your results, offer a few words to explain each connection. Here’s a sample challenge: Michael Booth > Jim Hamill

Here’s a valid answer: 1. Michael Booth > 2. Lari Goss (produced Booth Brothers’ album Declaration) > 3. Glen Payne (sang on Lari Goss-produced album Symphony of Praise) > 4. Lily Weatherford (sang with Glen Payne in Weatherfords) > 5. Jim Hamill (sang with Lily Weatherford in Weatherfords)

But here’s an answer that would put you closer to winning: 1. Michael Booth > 2. Ron Booth (sang with Michael in Booth Brothers) > 3. Jim Hamill (sang with Ron in Rebels Quartet)

The Contest

Connect these pairs of individuals with the fewest number of valid connections, and submit your results to (Do not post them in the comments!)

  1. Jeff Chapman > Steve Green
  2. Connie Hopper > Steven Curtis Chapman
  3. Pat Barker > Mike Huckabee
  4. Libbi Perry Stuffle > Arthur Blessitt (evangelist)
  5. Andrew Goldman > Alan Jackson
  6. Ernie Haase > Bishop T.D. Jakes
  7. George Younce > George Szell (legendary conductor of Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra)
  8. Channing Eleton > Harry Truman
  9. Vestal Goodman > Nancy Pelosi

The Tiebreaker

In case multiple people tie for the fewest total connections, here’s a tie-breaker: Take legends and fellow Cathedrals members Glen Payne and George Younce, and see how long a chain of connections you can create to connect them! 

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16 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 sounds like fun!

  2. Southern Gospel’s Master Statistician (Brian) came up with an idea that will give people who can’t connect each of the connections a chance of winning: “You could score each answer as a “10” if they come up with the same number of connections as you. If they do it in one more connection, give the answer a 9, etc. If they do it one fewer connection, give it an 11. A non-response gets a zero, of course.”

    I think I’ll run with it. Of course, if you only connect one or two, you probably won’t win, but if you can connect all the pairs except one (say, Vestal Goodman and Nancy Pelosi, which, I think, is the craziest combination of the list), you still have a chance at winning.

    By the way: It may take more than three degrees of separation to solve a couple of the combinations! It did for me! 🙂

  3. Did you happen to mean Symphony of PRAISE instead of Symphony of LOVE?

    • Correct. Can’t believe I made that typo!

  4. Ya know, I think that this is funny because probably the tiebreaker is the only one that I could figure out right away. The other ones would have to take time for me. Haha 🙂

  5. Did you notice that the rules were reversed on the tie-breaker – that it’s how *many* connections you can find between the two for them? 🙂

  6. I don’t have time to participate in this. I do hope that you will, somehow, post many of the connections people make. I know that’s a great commitment of time, depending on how many you receive. However, I think it would be fun to see all of the connections that people make.

    Great contest!

    • Well, I don’t want to embarrass someone who takes fifteen connections to connect Jeff Chapman and Steve Green when I had … well, better not say how many just yet. 🙂 I do plan to post at least my connections and the winner’s connections.

      • Excellent move, Daniel.
        You know the saying in the world of politics?
        “Politics makes strange bedfellows”
        In other worlds of interest, connections might “make odd or strange bedfellows” to other people.

      • Well, some of the pairings are intentionally of rather odd combinations. 🙂

  7. Please, at least give us one hint about Vestal and Nancy Pelosi.
    Speaking of the government, we know that multiple groups have sang at the White House in the past. Kingsmen were there when Jimmy Carter was President, right?
    There’s also a picture, in either an ’87 or ’88 Singing News, of an Arkansas govenor named Bill Clinton giving the Kingsmen an award.

    • One hint, and one hint only, for Vestal > Nancy Pelosi: Start with Vestal. It’d be almost impossible to start with Nancy Pelosi. 🙂

  8. Interesting idea! It’d be too hard for me as i know the group names but not many of the names of the individuals making up the groups! 🙂 I’ll be anxiously awaiting the answers.

    • No problem; they’re coming this morning!

  9. What about this . . . Vestal Goodman once recorded “God Bless America” at the Kenedy Center in Washington, D.C.; Barbra Streisand also has done many concerts and received honors at the Kenedy Center; Barbra Streisand is a friend and avid supporter of Nancy Pelosi