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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.]