GVB, Isaacs, Crabb, Easters take home Doves [live blog]

The Dove Awards are tonight. While they won’t be aired on TV till Sunday, a number of people are posting tweets and live-blogs around the Internet. Some pertinent awards:

  • Southern Gospel Album of the Year: Gaither Vocal Band, Reunited
  • Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year: Jeff & Sheri Easter, “Born to Climb”
  • Bluegrass Album of the Year: Isaacs, Naturally
  • Bluegrass Song of the Year: Little Roy Lewis & Lizzie Long, “When We Fly”
  • Country Song of the Year: Jason Crabb, “Somebody Like Me”
  • Southern Gospel Radio Station of the Year: Joy-FM, out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Way to go, Daniel Britt!
  • Instrumental Album of the Year: Stan Whitmire, Joy Comes in the Morning

Oh, and it seems there is actually ground for the claim that CCM is more exciting than Southern Gospel—at least during awards shows: Two of the Dove Awards handed out have fallen apart during the acceptance speeches. We haven’t seen anything quite that exciting at the Fan Awards . . . but it’s probably just as well!

Toward the end of the show, four Southern Gospel groups did a Southern Gospel medley: “Give the World a Smile” (Blackwood Brothers), “If You Knew Him” (Perrys), “Feelin’ Mighty Fine” (Booth Brothers), “Through The Fire” (Crabb Family). Via Chris Unthank, they sang a verse and chorus each.

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Congratulations, Rusty

First, some background: SoGospelNews streamed their annual Ovation awards last night; it was the first time they had been streamed online. I was impressed with the overall quality of the show; many nominees and most of the winners were present. A complete list of winners is here; [EDIT, 2/21/13: Broken Link Removed.] Karen Peck and New River, the Perrys, the Booth Brothers, and Rusty Golden all took home multiple awards.

Of particular note is Rusty Golden’s impressive list of four awards. His songs won overall song of the Year (co-write with Jerry Salley on “I Want to Thank You”), Country Song of the Year (same), Progressive Song of the Year (co-write with Booth Brothers on “What Salvation’s Done For Me”), and Songwriter of the Year (Professional).

Since I regularly read album credits, I started seeing his name on enough cuts that I realized the impact he was going to make on the genre some time back. He was featured a year and a half ago in this site’s October 2008 feature interview. I believe these are his first awards in this genre—and he certianly started in style by winning four.

Congratulations, Rusty!

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SoGospelNews streaming awards show

In what is, to my knowledge, a first for any Southern Gospel awards show, SoGospelNews is streaming their awards show live tonight, in about a half-hour (7 PM Central / 8 PM Eastern).

Watch it here: http://web.mac.com/johnnyminick/JMM2/Special_Event.html. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.]

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Hall of Fame inductees announced

The Southern Gospel Music Association has announced their 2010 Hall of Fame inductees. There are six this year—Connie Hopper, Little Jan Buckner-Goff, Bill Hefner, Danny Gaither, Arthur Smith, and Sam Goodman.

Interestingly, the petition I mentioned last October to induct Sam Goodman evidently worked. Perhaps there just aren’t that many people who cast votes in the process, but however many votes it took, it was enough. Congratulations to Ritchie Hartsfield on a successful campaign.

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Singing News Fan Awards nominees announced

Singing News posted their top 10 Fan Awards nominees here. As it frequently is year to year, there are few surprises. A couple of things I noted:

  • David Phelps and Michael English picked up nominations for tenor and lead, respectively. Despite what some anticipated, it looks like Southern Gospel’s more traditional wing is ready to welcome them back.
  • In the favorite musician category, there are nine men and one woman, as it has been the last few years. Triumphant remains hot right now, so Jeff Stice is probably the frontrunner. A woman has never won this award, but don’t be surprised to see Kim Collingsworth pick it up one of these years.
  • There seems to be this sense on various Southern Gospel message boards that “If You Knew Him” is the front-runner for song of this year. Online prognosticators haven’t always accurately represented the pulse of the print readership, of course, but don’t be surprised to see that one as the front-runner this year.
  • Congratulations to the Blackwood Brothers for their first top 10 Male Quartet nomination in a long time.
  • It looks like the Mark Trammell Quartet didn’t sing their first date with Pat Barker in time to be listed in the quartets category. I believe that the change was announced by the eligibility period, but apparently the first date together was the dividing line. There is really no reason not to list Pat Barker in his current group on the next ballot, though. I seem to think there may be precedent for updating group affiliation, but I can’t quite remember it right now.
  • Guy Penrod is nominated in the soloist category. Could he give Ivan Parker a run for his money?
  • The Horizon Individual is a wide-open category this year. Gus Gaches and David Ragan both come from perennial fan favorite groups, Pat Barker has a solid fan base of his own, and both Bryan Elliot and Brian Alvey have at least a long-shot chance.

Your thoughts?

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Dove Nominees Announced

The nominees in the 2010 Dove Awards were announced yesterday. Southern Gospel picked up about thirty nominations, including a number in the high-profile overall categories.

Producer Wayne Haun picked up seven nominations, more than any other nominee from any genre. (Edit: As Chris points out in the comments, early reports were mistaken; Bernie Herms picked up one more, with eight nominations.) His nominations are mostly producer credits for various nominated songs and albums, but do include a nomination for Producer of the Year.

Jason Crabb was tied for second-most nominations (with six); most were in Southern Gospel and Country Gospel categories, but he did also pick up nominations for Male Vocalist of the Year and in the most prestigious category, Artist of the Year.

Speaking of male vocalist, the nomination generating the most buzz in our genre is Michael English’s nomination for Male Vocalist of the Year—almost certainly his first in the category since 1994. (He was a part of three awards since, two producer credits for the Martins and one for Signature Sound’s Get Away Jordan.) The male vocalist nomination is unquestionably due in part to the prodigal-comes-home narrative grabbing voters’ hearts—but musically, it’s due to his work as the lead singer for the Gaither Vocal Band. Southern Gospel is once again enough of a presence in the genre for a quartet / quintet lead singer could pick up a nomination in the overall male vocalist category. (Edit, 2/20/10: Michael English confirmed that it is his first nomination in 16 years.)

Karen Peck picked up a similarly prestigious nomination, in the Female Vocalist of the Year category.

The Gaither Vocal Band picked up a nomination for Group of the Year. While the chance that they could win is a long shot, it’s not entirely impossible.

Other Southern Gospel nominees include:

Song of the Year (overall)

  • “Born To Climb”; Jeff & Sherri Easter
  • “Somebody Like Me”; Jason Crabb
  • “Why Can’t All God’s Children Get Along”; Karen Peck & New River

Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year

  • “Because He Lives”; Gaither Vocal Band Reunited; Gaither Vocal Band
  • “Born To Climb”; Expecting Good Things; Jeff & Sheri Easter
  • “If You Knew Him”; Almost Morning; The Perrys
  • “Life Goes On”; Life Goes On; Talley Trio

Country Recorded Song of the Year

  • “Somebody Like Me”; Jason Crabb; Jason Crabb
  • “Thank God For Kids”; Every Light That Shines At Christmas; Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Southern Gospel Album of the Year

  • Almost Morning; The Perrys
  • Gaither Vocal Band Reunited; Gaither Vocal Band
  • North America Live!; The Hoppers
  • Treasure; Janet Paschal
  • Worth It; Brian Free & Assurance

Christmas Album of the Year

  • Every Light That Shines At Christmas; Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
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Singing News moves Fan Awards to Dollywood

Yesterday. Singing News announced that they will be ending their nearly four-decade partnership with the National Quartet Convention, moving the Fan Awards to Dollywood this year. The event will be combined with the SGMA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and the two events will be held Wednesday, September 29, 2010, in Pigeon Forge.

Reaction is mixed; some are ambivalent, many aren’t happy. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.]

Most of this commentary assumes that Singing News was offered the same offer as in previous years, a prime-time two and a half hour time segment. But that’s not necessarily the case; a rumor holds that Singing News may have only been offered an afternoon showcase this year. If so, the move makes more sense.

Advantages and Disadvantages

There a few advantages to the move, the most notable of which is the increased spotlight on the legends being honored at the Hall of Fame inductions ceremonies. Singing News will probably also have more control over the logistics and fewer time constraints.

Two items head the disadvantages list: First, it will be harder to get the nominees to attend. For the last few decades, virtually every nominated group has been at the Fan Awards, since they spend the week at NQC anyhow. Second, this move is from a 20,000 seat area (that typically had at least 80% of those seats filled) to an arena that seats approximately 3,260 people.

Who is risking more?

It is unlikely both events will come out ahead. With the events two or three weeks apart, non-wealthy Southern Gospel fans (and that’s about 95% of us) will have to choose one or the other.

Will the fans and artists still come to the Fan Awards?

Will the fans and artists still come to the National Quartet Convention?

The National Quartet Convention is almost guaranteed to see a 10%-20% decline in attendance. But it isn’t risking much more than that. In this context, its greatest strength is the number of groups with strong fan bases who will be on main stage but not among the top ten performing at the Fan Awards. If these groups had to choose, many would select the NQC over an event where they don’t perform and probably don’t sell product.

For the Fan Awards to succeed, nominees (especially those without a top 10 song) have to be willing to do both events.

So it would seem that Singing News is risking more. But attempting to fill a 3,200-seat theater is a much smaller task than filling a 20,000-seat arena. They should be able to pull enough fans from the area that they aren’t really risking a half-full venue. Their risk is that the event could lose its prestige and that the nominees won’t come. However, their 40-year history gives them a momentum that should sustain the event for a few years, long enough to see if this arrangement works.


In light of this move, what changes should the Fan Awards and NQC make?

The one thing that could leave the Fan Awards stronger than before would be a free online stream. Loss of ticket sales shouldn’t be an issue, since the theater is small enough that they should be able to easily fill it. Suppose nominees heavily promote the live stream to their email lists; 10,000 online viewers wouldn’t be a surprise, and 4-5 times that is possible. Releasing the e-audience numbers would help ensure that the event retains enough prestige to draw the nominees.

In all likelihood, the NQC board is trying to think up another event that will hold people all day Saturday. (Moving the Fan Awards from Thursday to Saturday several years ago was an attempt to do just that.) But the last few years suggest that this is a losing battle. Perhaps NQC should bite the bullet now and scale down their Saturday program. Most exhibitors, artists and otherwise, have torn down by 8 PM; they want to be packed and rolling in time to catch a Sunday date. Even artists featured on main stage frequently have their booths torn down by the time they’re off stage. Though some fans stay the night, most aren’t in the exhibit hall.

NQC would do well to borrow a page from their Sunday pre-concert playbook, and close the event with a bonus concert featuring three or four marquee groups, each for an hour. Each group could have a table out in the lobby, freeing up exhibitors to tear down. But for those who can only attend on Saturday, the entire exhibit hall could be open from 4-6. With a time frame this short and a closing time early enough to allow plenty of time to tear down afterwards, most booths would stay up and the exhibit hall could go out with a bang instead of a whimper.

This parting of ways is not ideal, but with a few adjustments, all parties involved can make it work.

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Signature Sound, Triumphant pick up Grammy nominations

The 52nd annual Grammy® Awards nominees were announced earlier this week. This year’s nominations—at least the two or three of those representing Southern Gospel—made more sense than in some previous years. Southern Gospel’s nominations were led by Triumphant Quartet’s Everyday and Signature Sound’s Dream On.

Two other nominees in the best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album with ties to Southern Gospel were Jason Crabb’s eponymous solo debut project and a recording called In God’s Time by former Perrys lead singer Barry Scott and his group Second Wind. Scott also sang with the Gospel bluegrass group Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver for several years.

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