For What it’s Worth…
When I talk to Southern Gospel artists before or after concerts, I frequently tell them that I’m a Southern Gospel blogger. I also make a point of saying that my blog is positive and that I’ll focus on what they did right, not what they did wrong.
I was recently talking with a well-known (as in sometime Singing News Fan Award-winning) singer and group leader and told him this. I’ve been chewing on his response for the last couple weeks. He told me whenever they weren’t up to par, whether it was an off day vocally, a weak song, or a poor choice of song selection, they knew it. It wasn’t like they were surprised when they read a blog post pointing it out.
He also said that until someone had been in their shoes and tried to win an audience over night after night, they couldn’t fully understand what it took to do things right.
Well, I haven’t been a member of a Southern Gospel group, and other than singing Southern Gospel songs as solos at a church mostly familiar with contemporary music, I haven’t really had much experience selling a song, either.
But, for whatever it’s worth, I do know what it’s like to try to hold an audience’s attention for an hour and a half, try to win over an audience. My first public speaking was in a science fair setting at age 5, but more to the point, I’ve been giving full-scale hour to hour and a half long presentations at least since I was eleven or twelve, on all sorts of different topics: The High Priest and the Tabernacle, Noah’s Ark, Distance Learning and/or Homeschooling through College, the New Testament text / lower criticism, and the Faith of America’s Presidents are a few of the ones that I’ve done. I’ve given these presentations to various churches and other groups.
Ever since I started, I’ve been doing on average a few presentations every year, usually introducing a new topic about every year. Since my book came out, I’ve been speaking almost every week at different churches and other groups.
I say this as a roundabout way of saying that, in a sense, I do know what it’s like to be in a performer’s shoes. I know what it’s like to walk out in front of an audience that mostly doesn’t know you and try to get their interest and hold it for an hour and a half or longer. I know what it’s like to do a presentation on auto-pilot when I’m sick enough that I would’ve stayed home if I wasn’t the one presenting. And yes, I do know what it’s like to get into the car afterwards and give myself a B-minus.
Some Southern Gospel bloggers tend to focus on little things, like whether two or three notes (out of probably a thousand sung that night) were ever-so-slightly off-pitch, or whether the group missed a note blending perfectly with their stacked vocals. In my mind, these are the little things, things that an average audience member would not notice.
If you’ve noticed that my concert reviews tend to focus on the big things–especially whether the artist made fans that night, winning the audience over by the end of the night–now you know why.