Creating Trends

Every good group needs great vocalists and great songs. Great groups have one more thing: They either do something nobody else does or do it better than anyone else. Many of these can be described in ten words or fewer. Four examples:

  • Statesmen (50s/60s): Modern harmonies and an energetic live delivery
  • Isaacs (90s/00s): Gospel bluegrass with tight family harmonies
  • Bill Gaither Trio (60s/70s): Group members writing enduring classics for every record
  • Gold City (80s): Cutting-edge progressive Southern Gospel

The point isn’t to be unique for the sake of being unique; those acts are novelty acts.

If a group does something innovative and is successful, others will eventually copy the unique factor, and perhaps even the songs. Regional groups, and sometimes a few groups on the national scene, are content to jump on the bandwagon of the currently successful trends. The great groups create those trends.

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11 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. The Hinsons and the Goodmans, rather simultaneously, gave a template that many groups would follow: high energy, full band performances with power family harmonies.

  2. Great subject Daniel. I was told by one of my managers in the early days of me traveling that most Gospel music fans were also wrestling fans. In those days I was still trying to be “High Church” in my presentation because that is how I was taught. The problem was that it wasn’t getting past the first row. His point was that most of the fans want a gimmick. They want something they can identify with every time they see you. That is true. The dilemma is presenting the gimmick with class so it doesn’t come off as hokey or “local group” for lack of a better term. A gimmick can be anything from an old man to two microphones. It can also be a white flag or a passionate piano player. There has to be something that brings the people to the concert night after night. Here, in my opinion, is where many groups miss the boat. YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE SONGS TO BACK UP THE GIMMICK! Glen was always the old man, but they didn’t have their greatest success till We Shall See Jesus. Brian Free was always precious, but Midnight Cry was their launching pad. Gerald has always made fun of Rodney, but Lazarus, to this day, has to be sung night after night. Thank God that at the end of the day, whether you like wrestling or not, It’s all about the song. That’s the way it should be and I hope that’s the way it always will be.

    • That is fascinating – and true!

  3. Weatherfords had there own “calling card” with their sound. They made it a practice to sing easy which was only part of the equation. The other part was due to not hearing notes and singing flat. Lag time singing was created to solve the problem and that was what gave Weatherfords their sound. Lots of groups have tried it, but it is definitely a trademark.

  4. I agree 100% with your last two sentences, Daniel. What is it about regional groups and covering other groups songs? There is a male quartet here in VA close to where I live that have cover songs as the majority of their repertoire. Then again, if you don’t have a songwriter as a member of your group, it probably is pretty hard to get other songwriters to pitch their new songs to you as a group, since you are not that well known.

    • Groups like that could always go through 10+-year-old projects to find forgotten gems that were never singled, but could have been hits for that group had they been singled.

      • If I’m not mistaken the Kingsmen may have recorded Shoutin Time before the Hoppers. However, it was the Hoppers hit song.

    • The Inspirations did Shoutin Time too. I think they just do it at slightly (very slightly) slower tempo.

  5. I’ve never really thought much about this subject, but as I read the post and comments it struck home with me. I’ve listened to the Gaither Vocal Band because of “legendary songs with a power tenor.” In the past few years I also became found of the “bluesy” spin Michael English put on songs. For Greater Vision it was not so much their sound as ever time I heard them on Pandora the song would just jump out and grab me. So, with greater vision I would say something like “group with great songs and solid vocals.” Anyway, maybe I’ve strayed from the point of the post, but I realized that most of the time I enjoy a group there is typically a definite reason why that immediately comes to mind.

  6. This is a fun subject to discuss and like the posted comments. I believe Glenn Payne once said “if all else fails, try singing”

    • The best and most-lasting trend-setters create their trends by singing (not gimmicks – though gimmicks sometimes help the appeal).