What should we call regional groups?
What should we call groups that are not one of Southern Gospel’s nationally known recording artists to distinguish them from the groups that are?
Of course, we must start this discussion by realizing that the line is blurred, and there are always artists in AAA, big league quality but one step away.
But when I’m writing a review of an artist that is indisputably good but not nationally known (recent examples: Daybreak Quartet, Shiloh Mountain Trio), oft-times I’m at a loss for words for what to call them. “Regional” seems to be the most common term, but it’s not strictly correct; a number of regionally known groups travel across 8-12 different states on a consistent basis, and the national groups often don’t go much further.
“Semi-pro” is a term used in other fields, but it implies a lower level of professionalism which is true of some groups but decidedly not true of others.
In CCM, the term “indie” is frequently used. And there’s some merit to the term: Though there are a few exceptions, practically every major group is or has been on a major label. Groups like the Dixie Echoes that might be independent but nationally known now came to prominence on major labels.
On this blog, I want to be accurate without demeaning. I’d like to use a term where if someone stumbles across the website without any prior knowledge of the genre (and this happens), they can understand which groups are nationally known and which aren’t. At least for the purposes of this blog—and to some extent, in our wider discussions elsewhere—which term is best?