In this genre, with how common encores are, we often take them for granted. “Encore,” as used in the patois of Southern Gospel music, refers to a turnaround, a repeat of a final verse and chorus. Typically, since most groups use soundtracks, encores are arranged and recorded in advance; sometimes but not always (depending on the group), they are performed by default.

Though most Southern Gospel groups will encore songs that get a good response, there are a few exceptions, most memorably Jake Hess. After years of doing encores with the Statesmen, when he started his own group, the Imperials, in 1964, one of the rules he made for the group was that they would never do an encore. He thought that if a song didn’t get all the response it deserved the first time through, a second time wouldn’t help things.

What place do (or should) encores have in our genre?

I’m personally in favor of (at least some) encores, though I think they may be over-used.  They are best when there is some spontaneity involved—i.e., the Perrys encoring “Who am I,” “God Walks the Dark Hills,” or “Did I Mention” acapella, or Arthur Rice holding a note nearly forever, before the band kicks in for an encore of “What We Needed.”

What do you think?

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18 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 think pre-programmed encores should be used very, very sparingly or not at all. When you see a group multiple times and the same encores are done every time, that really loses the spontaneity for me! I tend to go along with Jake’s reasoning!!

  2. If the crowd is worked into a frenzy then I say encore. Don’t force encores if the crowd is not into a particular song.

  3. Another good reason why they shouldn’t sing to tracks. Encores should be spontaneous, not plan.ned. Some of my best memories are of the Blackwood Brothers encoring “The Old Country Church.” That excitement is lacking in modern SG, strictly because of the tracks.

  4. I don’t know about the question raised – I’d say “whatever works.” I guess there are a lot of times I’m just listening to a CD and if it’s a song I like, I love the anticipation as it winds down and I say to myself, “It’s not done!” I think that GV’s “We’ll Soon Be Done With Troubles And Trials” is one of these, just an “old song” (as Gerald would say) off a simple table album.

    I was commenting to ask whether “turnaround” is the term used for an encore, though? I know that it’s used for the piano “bridge” between verses. I guess I remember hearing Gerald in the background saying to Roger, “Turn that thing around!” with “He Set Me Free” when they wanted to do a repeat. I still think of it just as the piano part, though……. Just quibbling for fun. 😀

  5. Another plus for encores is the fact that it can take a relatively short song (2+ minutes) and make it a little longer (3+ minutes). But I agree with most here–the true purpose of an encore is to give the audience just a little bit more–IF they want it!

  6. I think an encore is perfectly fine – if you don’t go crazy! Blood Washed Band by the Cathedrals would not be right without an encore. Somebody Touched Me – not right without one! The Perrys’ can encore anything and it is great…

    From a ministerial point of view – it is to reemphasize a point…


  7. I totally agree that encores are great, as long as they are not planned. I think it’s all a matter of how the Spirit is moving at a particular time. The most recent example that comes to mind is the Perrys Did I Mention. That song is stirring the hearts of people, you can see that fully evident when they sing it. If people are responding to a song in a big way like that, I think it begs to be encored and needs to be encored. If it a particular is becoming a spiritual encounter with the Lord at a particular moment, then let it be sung as long as it takes.

    • AND, by the way, they do different numbers of encores depending on the venue. I think they’re always doing at least one acapella chorus encore, but they don’t do the additional verse/chorus at every venue (they didn’t do it when I saw them).

  8. Daniel, An encore is not spontanieous if they do it everywhere they go. The Perry’s are a great example. They encore the same songs every time. Just because they make it look like it never happened trust me it happens every time!!! The Inspirations are another example. They encored a song 4 times the other night in Lawrenberg TN and got little to no response. Speaking of the inspirations, they went over like a led balloon at the Vaughn sing. Very dissapointing. A lot of hype, little evidence.

    • I’d actually differ. The Perrys don’t encore the same songs every time. I’ve heard them do “Who am I” with and without the encore, and ditto for a number of other songs.

      And the songs they do encore every time – right now, “Did I Mention” and “I Wish I Coulda Been There,” they don’t encore the same number of times. Between different YouTube videos and the live appearances I’ve seen, they might do anywhere from one chorus or verse/chorus encore on those two to *four*!

  9. A legitimate encore, to me, is when the fans won’t stop clapping after a particular song, thus meriting the group to have to re-do part or all of the song. I see very few legitimate encores these days. One of the most recent was Mark Trammell Trio in Springfield back in April. They sang “Safe On The Glory Side,” and people would not stop clapping. They did the entire song over and it was justified and got the same response as the first time they did it.

    That said, there are times when groups do a much loved song or one they almost 100 percent know for sure will get a rousing response and therefore they have an encore planned.

    There are all sorts of terms out there–encore, reprise, turn-around, etc. I think it’s whatever the manager chooses to call the encore. And let’s not forget the very popular “fake ending.” That’s when a song doesn’t actually stop. They end it, but then the drum will keep kicking out a time or someone will hold a note and they start singing the chorus again. That isn’t an encore either.

  10. In Southern Gospel parlance, the “turnaround” is essentially another musical intro that is played before an additional verse is sung. I think it’s appropriate to use the term to describe the beginning of an encore if indeed a fresh intro is played. If it’s just a fake ending where they hold a note for a long time and then kick right back into the song again, or if it’s a case like Daniel mentioned with the Kingdom Heirs where a vocalist triggers the encore, that would not involve a turnaround.

    For reference on whether an encore can begin with a turnaround:
    Jim Hamill can be heard triggering an encore yelling, “Turn it around, Tony” to Anthony Burger on one of their live recordings…I think it’s the University Of Alabama album. Burger plays an intro that pretty much the same as his earlier intro, and off they go again.

    • Oh, yeah. That one’s engraved on my brain.

  11. I’m not a great fan of encores, but I loved the way the Statesmen planned their encores of a few songs. They actually had introductions to several of their encores that weren’t a part of the actual song.

    For example: “No no no no no no no no God’s Not Dead!”

    Guess you have to be old to appreciate that.

  12. Brady wrote:
    “There are all sorts of terms out there–encore, reprise, turn-around, etc. I think it’s whatever the manager chooses to call the encore. ”

    Encore and reprise mean the same thing, but turnaround does not. The term “turnaround” has always applied to the musical intro that comes before any verse other than the first verse. The encore or reprise, on the other hand, is the entire bit of the song that is repeated after a pause. You can have turnarounds that do involve encores as well as turnarounds that don’t involve encores.

    Whether a fake ending leads to an encore is debatable. If it doesn’t entirely stop, then I would probably agree with you that it isn’t a true encore, even though the audience may be tricked into applauding at that point. Tomorrow, I might disagree with you on the same point. :o)

  13. #12, David, I didn’t make myself clear on my previous post. Yes, encore and reprise are the two musically correct terms for an encore, but I was trying to say that whatever an emcee calls it, be it “hit it again” or “let ‘er rip,” or “turn this thing around,” that it their personal jargon for meaning an encore, so any number of terms for that could be floating around, albeit incorrectly. And turn-around is typically the instrumental interlude between verses. Sorry for the misclarification.