From time to time, industry observers will discuss the weight of Southern Gospel performers in various blogs and forums. This typically takes the form of a complaint that a good number of Southern Gospel’s marquee performers are overweight, some dramatically so.

This is not ideal, but the alternative is worse.

In other genres of music, including some other Christian genres, record deals with major labels are determined as much (and, I suspect, sometimes more) by a singer’s appearance than by their vocal abilities. Top artists wear clothing to publicity and photo shoots (and all too often to concerts) that is form-fitting and revealing, meant to emphasize their appearance. The singers backed by big promotional budgets are often teens and twenty-somethings in peak appearance, never minding the fact that they won’t peak vocally for years. Contemporary labels today would turn down George Younce, Vestal Goodman, and Bill Gaither for recording contracts, no matter their voices, because they aren’t skinny 25-year-olds.

That, of course is the other extreme. A happy medium is undoubtedly possible, but until then, I for one would rather my favorite singers spend more time with vocal coaches than with attractiveness consultants.

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7 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 agree with you regarding the statement about spending more time with vocal coaches. But in the same regards there is nothing wrong with trying to live healthy (losing weight) either.

  2. I agree with Seaton. Take Lauren Talley for example. She has an AWESOME voice, but she seems to be in great health, and she’s about 25 I think. Southern Gospel music has to get new artists sometime or eventually it will die. Nothing wrong with being healthy.
    Also, I do greatly enjoy the older artists, and I think we shouldn’t stereotype the contempory record labels.

  3. To me, that’s just ridiculous. Yeah, there are some funny-looking SG singers out there, and we could probably think of a few of them by name. But that’s completely irrelevant to the quality of their work, and a lot of people are just looking for something nasty to say about SG when they bring that issue up.

    One thing’s for sure though—you could never make that complaint about the Signature Sound guys! Doug in particular is a really gifted athlete and in great shape.

  4. Sadly, people look on the outward appearance rather than what’s on the heart. Seriously, I would rather listen to a horrible vocalist who’s as ugly as sin singing for the message than to listen to one that looks like an angel from heaven with abeautiful voice but sings for the show.

    • Errrrmph, well… I think I’d pass on both, to be honest. I don’t mind if somebody is funny-looking, but he has to be able to sing before I pay money to hear him. 😉

  5. Sadly people do notice these things and it DOES effect what they think of a given group… I for one could not care less what a singer looks like as long as they are bringing glory to the most high!

  6. See, I don’t pay to see people sing. They come to my church. The people in my church, hey, they may not be the greatest musicians or vocalists. No one can really play accompaniment, but God looks on the heart. Trust me. I’m fat, but I still sing well. Weight is not a factor when bringing the glory to God. I’ve noticed that the groups who haven’t gotten all the fancy stuff (Inspirations and DayBreak) are the one’s who have stayed more fundamental and seem the most sincere to me. Of course, that’s just my perception.