Friday News Roundup #216

Worth Knowing

  • Gerald Wolfe has been undergoing physical therapy on his neck and shoulders. On medical advice, he has taken the last three weekends off from singing; Brian Alvey (Lauren Talley Alvey’s husband) has been filling in. Wolfe has been at each date, playing piano and emceeing. This setup with Alvey filling in on lead and Wolfe on piano is expected to continue for three more weeks.
  • Phil Cross’s father passed away on Wednesday evening; on the same day, his mother was hospitalized with extremely high blood pressure and concern about possible blood clots.
  • Primitive Quartet guitarist Mike Riddle suffered a severe injury to his left ring finger on Wednesday. His finger was broken in multiple places. He visited a surgeon on Thursday to discuss surgery options.
  • The Old Paths are recording a live DVD next Wednesday at Sagemont Church in Houston, Texas. The taping will be free and open to the public.
  • Daywind announced a date and location for a Nashville-area memorial service for their recently-deceased former A&R Director, Norman Holland. It will be from 1-3 PM on Monday, April 14th at Christ Church in Brentwood, TN.

Worth Reading

Yesterday’s discussion on radio chart speed prompted some thought-provoking letters to the editor.

From Josh:

I’ve been thinking about the difference between SG and other genres in other areas of the industry, but it has an effect here too. Its widely understood that a major difference between our industry and others is our motives.

In other genres, chart success is what drives their success on the road. If you don’t have a chart-topper, its very difficult to get your foot into the industry. In southern gospel, while chart success is important, I’m not convinced its what drives a group to continue on the road. If it does, maybe they should check why they are in this industry to begin with. Groups will (should) continue to travel if they don’t have a chart-topper. That’s not what this industry should be based on. The importance needs to be placed less on the chart-toppers and more on the lives saved.

Could the charting process be sped up? If its a core part of the industry and why groups continue to travel, go right ahead. But I won’t be hurt if it stays the way it is because I hope groups would realize that they don’t travel for chart-topping success or the royalties they could earn.

An excerpt from Kevin Kreuger’s letter:

If we look back in history from the 50′s, 60′s and in the 70′s, all formats (country, pop, etc) had songs that dominated the #1 position on the charts for months. Now that we’ve become the instant everything culture, we see songs rise and fall in a quicker manner. I think another thing that comes into play is that we have more ‘national’ groups than we did in prior decades. With more groups clammering for airplay, I see songs coming off charts sooner because we have to make room for the new addtions to the chart.

I like Absolutely Gospel’s weekly chart (disclosure: we are a reporting station to this chart) versus a monthly chart, but I believe the charts are for industry professionals. Nobody walks up to a product table and says, ‘well this CD has one number one song, a top ten song and a three top twenty songs, but that one had only one number one song and one top fourty song. I’ll take the first one’.


And, finally, an impressively lengthy one from Tony Watson:

I’m of the school that says the charts have much less impact today than they did 20 years ago. Honestly I subscribe to Singing News but I seldom ever look at the chart anymore and I don’t look at any other charts at all. I was in radio for a few years in the late 80′s-early 90′s so I looked at it then. Now with so much instant access to songs through websites, YouTube, iTunes, social media, etc. the need for charting is lessened for the consumer. It’s still a measure for the artist of what the buying public is listening to, but I think other factors have bit into that as well.

Services like Enlighten, iTunes Radio, Pandora, etc. have had a very positive effect in getting the music by the top groups “out there” more. Sure there are still some quality issues, but it’s still better quality than was demonstrated on much local gospel music radio before these were available. The push-back is this . . . artists are seeing that people are buying fewer and fewer CD’s. They either buy it on iTunes, with many just buying the songs they like, or due to the exposure with these web and satellite-based services, people don’t feel like they need to buy the CD’s/songs because they get to hear the top songs for free or for a monthly subscription.

While the artists do get royalties from services like Enlighten, the impression I’m getting from the artists is it’s many times a lesser return than they used to see from CD sales just a few years ago.

Getting back to the issue at hand, I see there being fewer “landmark” songs” today than 20 years ago. I think it’s partially because of increased exposure, partially because there are more groups who have a “national” platform than there were. The internet and it’s related venues like YouTube, social media, artist websites, e-mail lists and the like make it easier for folks to keep up with and interact with their favorite groups and really not be as interested in the industry as a whole. Used to be, Singing News was the lifeline of information – now the information is 2 months old when you receive it and it’s greater value is the behind the scenes stuff with the artists, their at home visits and the stories behind the songs. Still a great value, but much different than grabbing it out of the mailbox and seeing what song is #1 this month.

Some may argue that there are MORE landmark songs than 20 years ago, but I would disagree. I think you get some songs with “definition” for a group from time to time but I don’t think they, overall, have the lasting impact as “Midnight Cry” or “We Shall See Jesus” or “Learning to Lean” or “Touring that City” or other songs that are instantly identified with a particular group from days gone by.

It’s the same thing in the rest of society. There are many other options for music, for entertainment, for pretty much everything these days. Overall TV ratings are down for particular shows because there are so many other options for viewing. Shows come and go much quicker because networks will not stick with shows to let them breathe.

The same reality exists in gospel music. The most successful groups in recent days have had a simple formula – good songs, good people skills, believability and very little personnel turnover – period. I tell people all the time, the key to being successful in gospel music comes down to 2 words “stay there”. The problem is now, economic issues are going to swallow more and more up and those who are in debt up to their eyeballs are going to be tempted to do some unethical things to try and stay afloat (some already have) and that’s a tough place to be.

With that said, back to the issue at hand (I keep chasing my own rabbits), who can name the “landmark” song of more recent groups? It often comes down to the song you first heard them sing or the song you like the best or the song that ministers to you the best. I’m asking some hypothetical questions now because I don’t want this thread to become a list of people’s choices for “landmark” song, but what is the “Landmark” song of Triumphant Quartet? Crabb Family? Collingsworth Family? Whisnants? Mark Trammell Quartet? Booth Brothers? Greater Vision? Tribute Quartet? I’m thinking specifically off the top of my head of groups that have come to more prominence within the past 20 years, give or take. If we were to list them, we couldn’t likely come to a consensus of what those were in many cases. In some cases it’s a little clearer, to be sure.

To summarize, I’m of the opinion that radio still has much value, but the charting impact has lessened significantly in gospel music and I don’t see it coming back.

Worth Watching

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50 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 LOVE the Mylon Hayes Family. That is how singing should be done. OUTSTANDING!! Also have had the chance to work with GV several times since Brian started filling in. What a talent. Tenor in one group, lead in another, and now baritone. He sings all of those parts with excellence. Its also fun to have Gerald at the piano for the whole concept. Brought back alot of memories.

    • Except for the fact that it might cause us to hear his voice a little less often, I do wish we could hear more of Gerald behind the piano.

      • 25 years from now, we’ll look back in wonder at Wolfe, who was/is simultaneously one of the greatest vocalists, musicians, emcees, and businessmen in gospel music.

      • I second that! He plays exquisitely. Many, many people play piano, Gerald owns it. He’s such a neat little fella — I think everybody loves him. He sure picks on Rodney, and he does that well, too. So smooth Gerald is. Consummate comes to mind (performer).

      • I was doing a search on a Gospel singer, David Capps, and only found mention of him on this sight 9/26/13. My father’s a retired minister, we knew him personally, I was a very young child and he was so nice. He sang at the churches my father pastored, but his testimony was the most inspiring I’ve heard, that is what inspired the album cover with his car. The last I saw him, I was a teenager and he was performing in Branson, MO. Do you know any current information?

      • I don’t. Perhaps other readers do.

  2. put out 1:23 clip of the newest GVB singing Give It Away. Sounds pretty good! One thing I noticed, it sure sounds like Todd Suttles is singing bass, especially at the 1:07 mark. That’s definitely not Bill. It also sounds like David Phelps is singing baritone, at least on this songs. Here’s a link to the clip:

    I also recently re-watched the official Gaither video announcement of the new group. I never noticed it before, but Bill has Todd do the bass part on “Search Me, Lord”. You can find that at 3:46 in the video. Here’s the link to that:

    I’m wondering if Bill is taking a step back and letting Todd carry some of the load at Bass? So far in the small sampling of clips I’ve heard, I’m not hearing the complex arrangements they did with the 5-man English/Lowry group, which in my opinion were kind of sloppy. They seem to be going back to the tight 4-part sound, with Bill taking a smaller role in the vocals. Of course Bill is still running the show, but that leads to another question: we don’t know much about Todd, but we do know that he was the director of the sports Training program at Vanderbilt for 20 years, according to Bill. So he has experience “running things”. I wonder (this is just me) if Bill may be prepping Todd to at least manage the group to some extent?

    Just some food for thought. I know the GVB future has been discussed, but just wanted to throw this out there…

    • <– I found this on Aaron Swain's site (Give it Away starts around the 8 minute mark). It confirms that Todd Suttles is taking the bass line and also soloing the verses.

      • Can’t tell for sure because of the video quality, but I wonder if it’s really Todd doing the low stuff or if Gene is off on the side with a mic.

      • I’d guess Gene.

    • Hey Joseph;

      I have wondered the same thing in regards to Todd stepping into the bass role a bit more. He definitely can hit the notes for the GVB arrangements and has a deeper voice that actually sounds closer to the likes of Jon Mohr on the earlier GVB albums, yet can blend like Bill. If you listen to the clips of Bill soloing on “Lord I’m Coming Home” from the new GVB Hymns album, it sounds as if possibly Bill’s voice is crackling. I dont know if it was for effect, or if it is the fact that he is getting older now – but I do wonder if now that he is 78, if he is starting possibly to feel the limitations on his own voice with the very involved arrangements that the GVB do? Maybe he is looking to start slowing down vocally while still running the show?

      • I think what Bill is doing there is a semi-intentional effect that he’s been using on certain songs for a number of years now.

  3. I’d like to find out if you know of somewhere (anywhere) you can go online and listen to clips of a certain cd you are wanting to purchase before purchasing it, b/c sometimes if you could hear a portion of the songs you might not like
    it and you would not buy it and this would save you money — to make a short story long. (LOL) I have a pile of cds
    I never play b/c I do not like them, and I’ve spent a good deal of money on said pile that I wish I had back. Do any
    or all of you have such a pile. I wonder. One I’m seriously considering is the Dixie Melody Boys new one. I don’t know
    anything about them, but read a certain glowing review that makes me want to know them better. Also, there is a
    certain song on it that I love. To clarify, I’m generally speaking of cds that are not my favorite groups/solos —-
    these I generally always buy and grow to love b/c I love said group. I’m speaking mostly of new (to me) groups.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Yes – iTunes.

      • Thank you. I did not know that. I’ve never been there. I thought you just went there to
        buy music, but I’ll sure check it out. Thank you, Daniel.

      • I just went to iTunes —– they don’t even have the Dixie Melody Boys.
        Thanks, though.
        Anyone else?

      • If it’s not on iTunes, it’s rather unlikely that it is available for digital sale anywhere else, except possibly their own website. Also, their label has assured me that the project will be on iTunes soon; that was a little while back, so I guess soon hasn’t arrived yet.

  4. Do you play a musical instrument or two, Daniel? As much as you know about music, I feel sure you
    hold a degree of some kind in music from some institute of higher learning. Am I right? Also, I’d like
    to know what jobs you’ve had, etc. before you discovered SGM, being as you say from time to time
    that you only “discovered” it not that long ago when you checked out that Happy Goodman (or was
    it Cathedrals) cd at
    the library and “voila,” Is this journal and all that it entails a full-time job for you? I guess I could
    just look you up at Wikipedia like I did Ernie Haase yesterday, but I don’t know if you’re there yet.
    I’m just curious about celebrities that I like, that’s all. Inquiring minds and all that.

    • Let’s see if I can get this in order: Yes, no (history instead), several (in politics and sales), and no.

      • I’d hate to be the one who had to interview you for a magazine or something similar. It’d be tough.
        Switching gears, what’s the name of the lively little tenor who used to sing with Gold City when
        Mark Trammell was there, too? I know you know who I’m talking about — he was a pistol; and
        where is he now, if you know?

      • Oh, I can be more loquacious when the situation demands it. I just thought brevity there would be fun!

        I assume you’re talking about Jay Parrack?

  5. The tenor that was with Gold City during Mark Trammell’s tenure there was indeed Jay Parrack. He’s currently Minister of Music at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Anniston, AL. They’ve done some Gold City reunion type things and they host the Mark Trammell Quartet homecoming every year.

    • Jay also has a group called ‘VOCAL EVENT’. They do a few select concert dates. I have them scheduled in Kennesaw, GA July 19 along with Wilburn & Wilburn. They have a facebook page but no website. (Jay Parrack & Vocal Event)

      • Jay Parrack’s group also has an album on itunes. It is a good album, Daniel it would be a great album to review.

    • I really like Mr. Jay Parrack then. Thank you for giving me his name. I love his energy! He seems like a feisty little tenor — a winner for sure. That church is lucky to have him, I think.

  6. While watching Greater Vision 20 Years: Live In Texas DVD last night, something struck me: They were standing up there on a blank stage with just a piano and their music thingie up there —– there were no flowers, no plants, no nothing to decorate that stage — for a 20 year anniversary DVD of Greater Vision. (there were some wires on the
    floor, I think). Isn’t that strangely odd, I thought? What do you think? I had already written that thought down so
    as to remember to post it here today. AND then, about an hour ago I searched here for the Tribute Quartet and guess
    what I was I lucky enough to find? Several videos that our editor, DJM had posted of the Tributes at a Baptist Church in Ashville, NC. In these videos, at the front of the church where the Tributes are singing, are more flowers and plants
    than you can shake a stick at!! Beautiful flowers and plants. Not at a 20 year anniversary. Not Greater Vision.
    Something is wrong here. If I had had GV coming to my town, there would be flowers everywhere for their stage. What happened in Texas that night? I really don’t get this. It doesn’t make sense. Why were there no flowers on that stage in
    Texas? Can anyone explain this? Thank you.

    • Sometimes groups want a plain and simple stage, to keep the focus on the singers and the lyrics they’re singing.

      • Surely you jest. How would flowers interfere?
        On second thought, please don’t answer that.

      • Well, without answering your question, upon your request, I would note that “interfere” is a decidedly stronger word than I meant to use or infer. I meant to imply nothing more or less than what I said – “Sometimes groups want a plain and simple stage, to keep the focus on the singers and the lyrics they’re singing.”

    • The Tribute videos were at a church. It was probably the church staff that had decorated the platform for their Sunday service.

      The Greater Vision concert was also at a church. Maybe at their church they don’t feel its necessary to line the platform with plants and flowers.

    • Sara, I was the promoter for that concert where the DVD was recorded so I guess the stage decor would have fallen to either myself or to Daywind (recording company). I’ll be perfectly honest, the subject of plants or flowers never came up. In the past we did some plants and flowers due to some borrowing in exchange for advertising for some of our concerts but honestly it just became an issue of time and availability/money. I live 3 hours away from where we promote and we rent these auditoriums so there is the issue of keeping the plants alive and well in transportation and then where to put them afterwards and when to get them back to the florist, etc. Along with the other tasks of promoting a concert on the day of and day after a concert, we just let that one go. With the nice backdrops and lighting and video we have available now, I think the staging looks pretty doggone good, actually.

      If we were in a church (which we weren’t) and had plants as a regular part of the decor, it would have been simpler for sure.

      That DVD was recorded over 2 nights and is the first-ever Southern Gospel music DVD recorded in HD. I thought the picture was spectacular and the concert really captured the enthusiasm and energy of an annual Greater Vision concert in Temple, TX, which we’ve done for 23 years and working on our 24th.

      • I’ve known Tony and Rhonda for a lot of years and when with the Anchormen I worked with them. They do a first class job with concerts and the electricity is alive with their concerts you don’t need anything fancy like plants ect. Nothing wrong at all with that stuff. However I’ve been places there were so much of plants and flowers I wanted to get weed eater to cut stuff down so I’d have a place to set up. Lol.

        As far as Gerald goes he is prbly the best MC I’ve been around. When you can capture the attention and keep the crowd alive like he does its one thing but to play such a masterful piano and sing along with it then you have something. Truly a God given talent that he gives his all with every time Greater Vision performs.

  7. Hey Daniel,

    Not sure if you are still doing open forum on Fridays since you changed formats from comments to Letter to the Editor. But I could use some help from the knowledge of you and your readers.

    I have been ask to sing at a marriage conference at my church and would like to know 4-5 good songs that would be appropriate for the occasion? Any thoughts or ideas on songs would be helpful. Thanks!

    • This is such a good topic of discussion that I’m all for having it go forward. A couple of ideas:

      Household of Faith – Steve Green
      Find us Faithful – Steve Green
      Faithful to the Cross – Legacy Five
      Part of the Family – Collingsworth Family
      Endangered: The Christian Family – Inspirations

      • My folks had “Household of Faith” sung at their wedding, as well as at their 20th anniversary celebration. It’s a great song, and I’d also highly recommend it for such an occasion.

      • Great! Thanks so much. Readers, feel free to give input too.

      • At our wedding a little over 8 years ago, my wife’s aunt and uncle sang “Household Of Faith”, accompanied by their 10 year old son on the guitar. So that song holds a special place in my heart. 🙂

      • Daniel, I never thought of “Find Us Faithful” as a wedding song before, but I really like that idea. :). I will also add “I Will Be Here,” Steven Curtis Chapman, which is not too hard to sing as well as being beautiful…

      • Thanks! I was thinking of it mainly in this context: Unless a couple is 45+ when they get married, or has decided to take means to prevent having children, a wedding is the beginning of a family. This song, while it could be taken individually, could also be understood as a family mission statement. After all, it is written in the plural. 🙂

  8. Wedding Music?? Kidding! How Beautiful is a great song.

    • “Wedding Music” was pretty much the first song to come to my mind, too. I figured if I didn’t mention it, though, someone else would. 🙂

  9. Just saw your “Doing The Little Things” post featured on, way to go Daniel! I think you should consider being a regular columnist for Gaither’s magazine, with your résumé and reputation, you sure can easily get the job.

    • Hmm. Thanks! I probably ought to do something along those lines, but at the same time, there’s another part of me that wants to reserve the best thing I write each month for the people who come to read my site each day.

      • You can always provide a link for your readers here.

      • Yes. But, I guess, when it comes down to it: My line of thinking is that all y’all who have hung in here with me through the less-memorable posts deserve the royal treatment when it comes to first priority on my best ones! 🙂

      • Aww. How thoughtful thou art. 🙂
        But we’re talking Gaither columnist status here, it comes with free front row seats at Gaither tapings (i’ve seen several columnists on videos applauding heartily), you could join them hearty applauders, I’m sure your readers would wish that for you.

      • Hmm. That is an interesting thought! 🙂

        But truth be told, the one Homecoming I attended – The Homecoming That Nearly Sunk – I intentionally purchased tickets for the back row, next to the sound board and behind the camera jibs. Sure, the music going down on stage was relatively interesting, but what I really wanted to see was the production side!

  10. Ah! Interesting! I remember reading your account of the tent revival taping, and I remember you mentioning being near the sound board thingy, (or was it some video monitor thingy?)
    What i’m trying to do is to literally force you into attaining greater heights, but so far my attempts are proving ineffective 🙁 .
    We’re talking greater accessibility into the industry, inside information, being in the know and having more fun than should be legal while at it. Not that I’m from the Gaither firm trying to recruit you, but them republishing your work on their site is indicative enough of how highly they think it. As far as I know, no other blogger in the southern gospel realm has had that honor. It is an honor worth, in an honest a way as possible, exploiting for its monetary and social returns.

  11. Hey, Daniel. I saw something about the Harmony Honors tomorrow night and was wondering if you know whether or not this event will be live streamed? Thanks!