Pitching New Projects

In this Singing News forums thread, nmyrtlebeach makes the case that artists would do well to start their concerts with familiar songs–either general classics, or if they are fortunate enough to have introduced several songs that have become genuine Southern Gospel classics, their classics. It’s a good idea, because it will help artists build rapport with the audience, and make the new songs go over much better.

One example that comes to mind of this being done well is Garry Jones and Mercy’s Mark. When I saw them in Shelby, Ohio, they started their concert with “There’s Just Something About That Name,” followed immediately by “Plan of Salvation.” Then they did “This Jordan,” a song from their debut project that would have been somewhat familiar to the audience. Here was my reaction at the time:

I mentioned at the start of this review that I was uncertain how well the audience would receive progressive songs from Mercy’s Mark’s current project. After these three songs, I decided that the group could sing anything they wanted and have it go over well.

And, in fact, at that point they did sing several progressive songs to an audience that in large part doesn’t care for the style–and pulled it off.

But they followed a mostly different route the second time I saw them, opening a concert with only one semi-familiar song, “Where is God” (a song Garry Jones had a hand in originally), before moving into new songs.

And that leads me to my point. The first time I saw them, all but a handful of people were seeing them for the first time. The second time, they were singing to Garry Jones’ home church, to an audience that mostly knew them. I think nmyrtlebeech’s suggestion to start with a focus on familiar songs is most necessary when before a new or mostly new audience. When a group is at a venue they attend every year, starting with a familiar song would be nice for the newcomers, but they can have a greater focus on pitching their new material.

I imagine groups already know this intuitively, but a fan’s perspective every now and then doesn’t hurt.


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