SoGospelNews announces Ovation Awards

SoGospelNews announced their Ovation Awards yesterday. [EDIT, 2/22/13: Broken link removed.]ย The Talley Trio and Gold City won the greatest number of awards.

The award results I find most surprising were in the Traditional Southern Gospel Album and Song of the Year categories. Gold City won both, with Revival and “Truth is Marching On,” respectively.

I find this surprising because I considered both the song and the album to be quite progressive. “Truth is Marching On” is a great song, and I particularly like Legacy Five’s rendition, but I simply cannot imagine one of the great groups of yesteryear fitting it into their style–Statesmen, Blackwood Brothers, Happy Goodmans, et cetera. To me, a traditional song in this genre is a song that is similar enough stylistically to earlier Southern Gospel songs that it could have been done thirty or forty years ago. That sort of song is good no matter when it’s done, no matter who does it. Don’t get me wrong, though; I have heard progressive songs I liked, “Truth is Marching On” being one of them.
After that, it shouldn’t surprise you to see how I define traditional albums: In my book, a traditional album is an album that is stylistically similar enough to earlier classic Southern Gospel projects that either the songs themselves or their arrangements leave no question that Bill Lyles or Mom Speer would have recognized it as a Southern Gospel project. Among projects released in the last year or so, I would consider Sounds of Sunday (Dixie Echoes), I Know (Inspirations), and Rock of Ages (Blackwood Brothers) to be good examples of traditional projects. Other good examples are Greater Vision’s Church Hymnal series and Signature Sound’s Great Gospel Songs of the Last Century series. The three albums and both series are instantly recognizable as classic Southern Gospel.

With one or two possible exceptions, Gold City’s album is more progressive than any of the several hundred projects in my collection. Now please understand that I am most certainly not equating “progressive” with “bad,” because it has some very nice ballads (“Preach the Word” and “Truth is Marching On”) come to mind, but I wonder what mistake led to its being listed in the traditional category (or, for that matter, what point of reference could make it seem traditional).

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8 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 believe we’ve had this conversation before Daniel. Your scope of what traditional is is way too narrow, in my humble opinion. Yes, traditional is represented in those albums that you mentioned – however it is not limited to that.

    Gold City has always been known as a traditional quartet who stretches the boundaries of traditional music – just like groups like Greater Vision and the Perrys.

    I know this is said way too often – but music is ever evolving. Today’s “traditional” is not what it was 20 years ago. So while a song like “Truth Is Marching On” may have been deemed progressive 20 years ago – today is very much in the realm of traditional Southern Gospel music.

    As for the album, Revival – a few moments of progressive SG doesn’t make it a progressive album. Again – Gold City is known for pushing the boundaries of traditional Southern Gospel music. The only song on that album that I would actually consider progressive is their cover of Phillips, Craig & Dean’s “Mercy Came Running.” All the other songs are very much in the realm of traditional Southern Gospel music.

    I know this is just a differing of opinions – but if you are limiting your view of traditional Southern Gospel to the artists that you have listed – the SGN Music Awards wouldn’t have enough nominees to fill out the category every year – because that old throw-back style is not the most produced product every year.

    Just something to think about.

  2. Chris,

    Yes, you define traditional a little more broadly than I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You’re right. It’s something fascinating to think about. I’ve been thinking about it since I read your comment. Are there enough professionally recorded projects out there to fill a nominations list?

    Just to see, I worked at putting together two nominations list–a list of traditional albums in 2006, strictly defined, and a list of albums that are traditional, less strictly defined.

    Sample top 10 Traditional Albums List for 2006
    Dixie Echoes – Songs of Sunday
    Blackwood Brothers – Rock of Ages: Hymns of the Faith
    Dixie Melody Boys – Smooth and Easy
    Inspirations – I Know
    Mark Trammell Trio – Journey Thus Far
    Palmetto State – Gospel Quartet Favorites
    Chuck Wagon Gang – 70th Anniversary
    Florida Boys – Keep on Singing
    Kingdom Heirs – Off the Record
    Triumphant Quartet – Treasures

    Those are all projects by major groups. I own six of them and wouldn’t mind purchasing a copy of the last four, either. Then, to turn to a possible list of the top 10 traditional albums for 2006, less strictly defined:

    Perrys – Come Thirsty
    Legacy Five – Live in Music City
    Greater Vision – My Favorite Place
    Triumphant Quartet – Better Hurry Up*
    Palmetto State Quartet – Sweet Land of Rest
    Inspirations – I Know
    Mark Trammell Trio – Journey Thus Far*
    Dove Brothers – Shout it Out
    Chuck Wagon Gang – 70th Anniversary
    Florida Boys – Keep on Singing

    (*These group’s main releases would also do, if they’d done one in ’06.)

    That’s a pretty strong list of releases, too, at least in my book.

  3. Daniel, it seems to me that you have a different idea of what those old time groups did. If you think that the Gold City album would not have fit with what the Blackwoods or Statesmen or Oak Ridge Boys sang, then you haven’t listened to everything they did. You have limited the idea of what the Statesmen performed to three chords and a cloud of dust. In actuality the these guys did a good variety of songs. Sure they did the classic upbeat numbers that we all like, but they also did songs like “When He Calls I’ll Fly Away”, which back in the 60s was very progressive. When the Statesmen sang “Oh What A Savior”, it WOWed the people because it was different than the way “The Old Rugged Cross” was sang by most groups. Southern Gospel has always offered a wide style of music. The Goodmans sang “What A Beautiful Day For The Lord To Come Again” and it was thought to be traditional SGM, but it was different than other songs of the day. So don’t go limiting SGM. It’s always been a genre that has a wide variety of styles, from the Quartets like the Blackwoods and Statesmen to the Speer Family and the Masters Family, to the Lefevres and Swuanee River Boys. The styles have the same wide variety today, and it’s still all Southern Gospel.

  4. Good words, Deon. I have probably 50 Statesmen albums and probably 80 Blackwood Brothers albums, so I do understand your points.

  5. A huge majority of people (here in North-Central Ohio, and I’m sure there are many everywhere) love the old music.I say don’t force the new stuff they can’t relate to down their throats by heavily playing it on the raido and showing favoritism to it in the SG press.
    But I guess that’s all detirmined by what groups have the most money to spend on promotions.

  6. I don’t know any organization that forces the “new stuff” onto the public by showing favoritism to it in the press. But, in all honesty, the press is going to give more attention to those groups or items that are selling the most or are currently “hot.” If that means it is a style or a group that you aren’t personally sold on, that’s unfortunate, but still the truth.

    I watch commercials everyday for TV shows that are currently the hottest or most watched, but not my favorite. TV stations would be remiss if they didn’t give the most attention to what is the current “hot” item. The same thing applies to SG news organizations or magazines.

  7. Mary,

    I would tend to agree, with one addition. People in the area tend to like two types of music: The old music, and music that sounds like the old music.

  8. I did think that Gold City’s CD was a bit more progressive than lots of SG projects, but not overly so. I actually think Truth Is Marching on is best by Gold City. I really like the Talleys and Legacy Five, but I feel like Gold City nailed it and owns this song. ๐Ÿ™‚


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