Humbard and the Cathedrals / Gaither and Signature Sound

Quartet-man made an interesting comment recently:

The sales and exposure from the Gaither machine can make a huge difference. The smart groups are ones who take advantage of this, but don’t put all of their eggs in the Gaither basket, because no one (except God of course really knows how much longer Gaither will be doing the videos or singing itself. If groups put all of their dependence on him, they could find themselves in the same boat the Cathedrals did when the deal with Rex Humbard fell through.

This is a thought-provoking comment and worthy of some serious thought.

One of the first thoughts to come to mind is to compare the Cathedrals’ position with the Humbard organization to Signature Sound’s with the Gaithers.

In various articles and in their joint autobiography, George and Glen said that they they had a difficult time after leaving Humbard because the Humbard fans almost viewed them as part of the choir, not as a separate act of their own.

On the other hand, Signature Sound has done some thoroughly successful summer concert tours, as well as solo dates through the rest of the year apart from the Gaither Homecoming appearances. One of the biggest challenges the Cathedrals faced was drawing a crowd without Rex Humbard there; Signature Sound is already drawing thousands on their own.

Will their popularity take a hit whenever Bill Gaither retires? I suppose it is quite possible. But I also think that the longer they have under the current setup, the better of a chance they will have of making it on their own afterwards.

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3 Letters to the Editor

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  1. The real problem with all that is the fact that Ernie has burned some bridges with promoters and the biggest booking agency in the business. Going the Gaither route has advantages but it also brings alot of uncertainty. All it takes is one slip and all the eggs are gone when they are all in one basket! Just ask some of the other “regulars” who are now regularly passed over for what is Bills newest toy….

  2. Daniel, your analogy is flawed for two reasons, IMO.

    1)Signature Sound already HAD a following prior to their teaming up with Bill Gates…er…Gaither. It appears that to this point, SSQ has only gained new fans as a result of their association with Bill, and not lost many(if any)of their older ones. It would also appear to, by this time, have developed enough staying power with audiences that if the partnership with Gaither should end prematurely, it should not hurt their business appreciably. Of course, one never can predict everything that may happen, but to me, that is the likelihood.

    2) UNlike SSQ, the Cathedrals HAD no track record before Humbard…they were a creation of Rex’s ministry completely.
    When they left Humbard, the Cathedrals knew that they were leaving a relatively secure position for a gospel quartet, and going out to “fend for themselves” in the still-intensely compatitive quartet world of the late 1960s. They had to know that it would take time to establish themselves as a distinct commodity in the gospel market, and in fact, it did.

    But Signature Sound had already done so prior to joining Gaither, so they’re in a different position than the Cathedrals were in 1969, or even some of the Gaither acts are now.

  3. Signature Sound is building there legion of fans on a daily basis. It is true where I live in Pennsylvania most people around here had never heard of them until Bill Gaither put them on TV. But as more and more people are exposed to their wonderful music and testimony, when the time comes to leave Gaither, or Gaither retires and no longer does the Homecoming tours , they should be just fine on their own.