Statement from Jim Cumbee on Fan Awards

When it was first posted on a message board that Singing News would be dropping many of its Fan Awards, I emailed Jim Cumbee, who is now at the helm of the Singing News, to see if I could confirm or deny the rumor. My email stated:

There is a report going around that the only Singing News Fan Awards for 2007 will be in the following categories: Group, Male Singer, Female Singer, Horizon Group, Horizon Individual, Pianist, Young Artist, Songwriter, Song, and Album. I noticed it on the SoGospelNews message board, and made a post about it on my blog, www.southerngospeljournal.com. Could you confirm or deny this report?

Also, if the report is true, is your decision set in stone? Or would hearing from fans who wanted some of the most popular categories retained (bass, baritone, tenor, lead, trio, mixed group, male quartet) make any difference?

Thank you for your time.

Jim Cumbee responded by confirming the report. He gave four reasons for the change:

  1. We are going from 20-something categories to about 10 in the belief that fewer categories make for stronger awards, a faster-paced awards show and more excitement during the awards ceremony.  I want the Singing News Fan Award to have value to the artist, their record company and their booking agency.  If everybody is a candidate for something, ultimately the entire award process is diluted.  That won’t be the case anymore.
  2. If voting patterns mean anything (and I think they do), we are seeing LESS interest in the “part awards.”  You are wrong in saying that the part awards are “some of the most popular” — if you follow voting patterns.
  3. My belief is that the industry doesn’t need to be defined by gender composition (male quartet vs. mixed group) or by number (quartet vs. trio).  A southern gospel group is a southern gospel group.  Let’s let the fans decide which ONE is their favorite.  In the same vein, why segregate tenors from baritones, bass singers from lead singers?  Too many “fan favorites” negates the very meaning of “fan favorite.”  Who is your favorite singer? period.
  4. By having fewer awards, the dynamics of the voting get a lot lot lot more interesting.  The folks that watch these things (like you) will find this year’s awards much more interesting.

He also commented about his commitment to maintain the traditions and heritage of Southern Gospel music; he said, “that will never ever change under my watch.”

He concluded by expressing his commitment to help the genre grow, and ‘expand its credibility and visibility.” He believes a “faster award show with fewer and more competitive categories facilitates that.”

There you have it, in his own words.

If you want to share your thoughts with the Singing News management, email addresses for Danny Jones and Jerry Kirksey can be found on this page, while Cumbee’s is on this page. There is also a thread on the Singing News Forums where the issue will be discussed. [EDIT, 11/6/10: Regrettably, the links seem to be broken, so they have been removed.]


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9 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. Thanks for the article Daniel.

    I agree with you.

  2. Thanks for telling us about this and getting the confirmation. I, for one, don’t like this change. But nobody asked me 🙂

  3. Too bad they didn’t ask our opinion before doing this!! I think it’s a bad move! To put all singers together under one heading – “Favorite Male Vocalist and Favorite Female Vocalist”- just doesn’t make sense. I have favorite singers in each category who wouldn’t necessarily be my “Favorite Male Vocalist.” I think there are other categories that could be cut out that makes more sense – like DJ, Superfan, etc.!! But that’s just MHO!!!

  4. Although I haven’t given it much thought until now, I do like where Jim Cumbee is coming from in his reasonings and his motives. Anything to grow the genre!

  5. Cindy, along that same line of reasoning, I would have to guess that this will effectually eliminate all or nearly all bass singers from receiving an award. When people to date have thought “male vocalist,” they have almost never voted a bass singer into that position. George Younce is the only exception who comes to mind, and even then he only won the award a few times and he won it as much based on his baritone-range solos as anything else.

    To make a long story short (something I’m not that good at doing, to read my posts!), I think the “male vocalist” is biased toward lead singers and very few baritones, tenors, and basses will have a chance at winning a Singing News Fan Award.

  6. Since it is their (Singing News) magizine I know there can do what they want concerning the awards, but personnaly I do not like the idea. I have also heard they are moving the time for the awards to be given from Thursday night to Saturday afternoon.

    Daniel thanks for letting us know what they are planning. Keep up the good work.

  7. Interesting comments about this over at averyfineline. Not that I agree with everything he says, but it’s an interesting view.

  8. Plus, he makes a few historical mistakes. 😀

  9. I agree with Jim Cumby.