What do you say between songs?

Several months ago, I came across a fascinating blog run by Bob Kauflin, a long-time songwriter, former GLAD vocalist and current Sovereign Grace Music recording artist and worship leader. While many of his posts concern worship in a contemporary setting, I added his site to my must-read list since he frequently thinks outside the box, sharing thought-provoking insights about delivering Christian songs on stage. From the ones that everyone would agree with to the ones that spark vigorous discussion, here are a few highlights:

  • Behold the beauty of brevity.
  • Plan the progression of songs so you don’t have to say that much.” If the transition from one song to another just makes sense, no need to explain it. You only need to explain a bend in the road.
  • View testimonies, personal illustrations, and non-biblical quotes like spices – use them sparingly or they ruin the meal.” Awesome analogy!
  • Recognize that God’s words outlast ours.” This is an insight the Booth Brothers, in particular, have been applying in their concerts; sometimes all they do to introduce a song is to pull out a Bible and read a passage of scripture that applies.

If you ever lead worship or emcee a concert, check out the whole list here.

For more Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

23 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. A regional group I booked not long ago for a concert, sang a set of 17 songs. Fourteen times we heard the phrase “this next song we’re gonna sing”. Wonderful harmony, great spirit, but with no idea of how to build a concert.

  2. Good find Daniel! I’m a huge glad fan! I’ve got most of their albums…they were a big influence musically for me in my teenage years…great acapella stuff and great band! If you enjoy acapella singing, I would recommend getting glads “collectors series”…it a two disc set and it’s phenominal!! I often listen to it when I have long overnight drives! Again, great find DM!

    • I love their acapella CDs – some of their instrumental stuff isn’t my cup of tea, but their acapella stuff is awesome!

      • Amen! There’s never been anybody quite like Glad, in my book. The remarkable thing about that particular group is how none of the voices sticks out. When they blend, they *blend*! You can’t even describe the sound to somebody who’s never heard it. Much as I love SG quartets like the Cathedrals, I have to admit that none of them can blend quite like that.

        Great nuggets from Bob, BTW. That guy always has good musical advice. I also really like his take on melodies, namely that a good melody is something you *can* remember *and* *want* to remember. It’s surprising how many melodies fall into one category or the other, but not both.

  3. sometimes you don’t need to say anything…Greater Vision usually does about 3 or 4 songs before they say a word.

  4. Allison Durham Speer is a wonderful communicator of the gospel. She’s started the “Elijah Conference” to help teach and train others HOW to be effective communicators and ministers of the gospel, including what to say, what NOT to say, when, and how often to say it. Any soloist or group would benefit greatly. Visit http://www.elijahconference.com for more info!

  5. There is a major difference in effective emceeing versus speaking just because you have the microphone and/or because you think you’re supposed to. I’d much rather listen to song after song with little or no talking at all than to have to endure someone who has nothing to say but they’ve been appointed the emcee and so they think they have to talk.

  6. I think Ernie Haase is an example of somebody who’s really improved as an MC over the years. He always had talent in that area, but I feel he’s really matured lately. For a while, I feel like he used to rely on jokes a bit too much. He could still say some profound things, but sometimes it just got a little corny. I saw the group in concert two days ago, and his emcee work was extremely appropriate and tasteful. Much of the time, he didn’t say anything, and when he did, it was exactly the right thing to say at that moment.

  7. The other night the Kingsmen did about 6 or 7 songs before saying anything… They just hit you with a wall of songs back to back… It has its good points and its bad points… Talking will sometimes help you connect with crowd a little better and other times it will disconnect you… It takes a good MC to pull this off effectively…

  8. I’m gonna be starting my own groups maybe after I get out of college. I’d probably follow George younce’s concert format. Two or three songs without interruption, maybe with encores. Then introduce the third or fourth song. Tell a few jokes, tell the story behind the song, introduce the members. I’d never just say “okay, this is the next song we’re gonna sing”.

    • Good luck Samuel! (Just curious, what part would you be singing…or do you sing? 😉 ) And I agree, you can’t pick a better model to follow for emcee work and general showmanship. That’s why people like Ernie Haase and Scott Fowler have turned out so well in that respect. They learned from the best.

      • Yes Good luck Samuel! That formula is one of the best you can use for sure…

      • Lead or baritone.

  9. Honestly, I HATE it when introducing a song, the last thing the emcee says is the title of a song. Its like they think its required to say the name of the song when introducing it.

    • Hmmm…that’s never bothered me personally. When Ernie introduced Devin and had him sing “It’s My Desire,” I didn’t mind when he said something like, “I want you to listen to Devin as he sings this song…’It’s My Desire.'” Ah well, everybody’s different…

      • Do you remember where Roger is introducing Scott’s song on “Live at the Palace” and he appears to forget the song name? He says, “This is the last number 1 song the Cathedrals had, and Scott Fowler sang it. It’s called, uh, He Made a Change.”

      • Ha! Funny! Never saw that clip, but there’s a humorous example of why it might be advisable not to try to introduce a song with its title..

      • But what if you’re the sort of emcee that doesn’t do the same program each night, and (if it’s all-live) you might have a few similar-sounding intros? You might get your singers singing the wrong song!

      • Quite. I actually agree. I just thought that was kind of a funny story about Roger…

      • The absolutely stupendous thing about Roger’s emceeing (see, I’m still somewhat on topic) is that he didn’t get flustered by stuff like that. The rest of us would have clutched up, got tongue-tied, and lost it from there on. Roger just slowed down.

        Remember on the Parade of Pianos how he takes a long time kidding about a pianist’s head of red hair, and asks the crowd to welcome … “who am I talkin’ about here?” I don’t think he was fooling, either! He just enjoys it with the audience and moves on.

      • Roger had a rare gift. Like George, he could take an audience from laughter to tears to laughter again in a matter of minutes. Just watch his testimony for “Don’t Be Afraid” from the Texas album. Gripping stuff.

      • It depends on the situation. Ernie does it well. I’ve seen it done terribly by amateur groups.

      • Doesn’t Bill “call out” the songs on a night-by-night basis as well?