Singing News Fan Awards to return to NQC

Singing News and the National Quartet Convention announced yesterday afternoon that the Singing News Fan Awards will return to the NQC mainstage this year.

Rick Francis, Singing News’ Operations Manager, explained that the details had been in progress for several weeks, adding, “It just makes sense for the Singing News Fan Awards to take place during the week of NQC, during a time when the entire Southern Gospel music community —fans, artists, and industry—is together in one place. We are very pleased about this agreement.”

NQC Executive Vice President Clarke Beasley added, “The Singing News Fan Awards and the NQC were inseparable institutions for decades, and we are delighted that the Fan Awards will once again call the NQC home.”

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Updates to the Singing News #1 Analysis Posts

Earlier this week, I updated the posts analyzing Singing News #1 Hits by artist, by writer, and by label (as well as the overall list). Here’s a quick summary of changes:

  • Label Analysis: There were no position changes. Crossroads picked up two #1 hits since the last update, while Daywind picked up one. 
  • Artist Analysis: There was only one #1 by a group with enough #1s to place on the list: The Kingdom Heirs picked up their eighth #1 hit, breaking the tie with the Inspirations to claim sole possession of the ninth-most #1s by any artist in our genre’s history.
  • Songwriter Analysis
    • With her ninth and tenth #1 hits, Dianne Wilkinson moves up into a two-way tie for third place with Ronnie Hinson. Her songs have spent twelve months at #1.
    • With his fifth #1 hit, Jerry Salley moves into a 5-way tie at #7
    • With her fourth #1 hit, Sue C Smith moves into a 5-way tie at #8
    • With his third #1 hit, Matthew Browder makes his debut on the list. The list only tracks writers with three or more #1 hits. Notably, all three of Browder’s #1s have come within less than three years.
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Singing News Fan Awards: Top 5 Nominees announced

Yesterday evening, Singing News announced the top 5 nominees in the Singing News Fan Awards (). Here’s a list breaking down changes from 2012:

Favorite Artist

  • Unchanged: Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, Perrys, Triumphant Qt
  • 2013: Collingsworth Family
  • 2012: Brian Free & Assurance

Favorite Traditional Quartet

  • Unchanged: Kingdom Heirs, Legacy Five, Mark Trammell Qt, Triumphant Qt
  • 2013: Brian Free & Assurance
  • 2012: Inspirations

Favorite Mixed Group

  • Unchanged: Collingsworth Family, Hoppers, Isaacs, McKameys, Perrys

Favorite Trio

  • Unchanged: Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Karen Peck & New River, Whisnants

Favorite Soloist

  • Unchanged: Mark Bishop, Jason Crabb, Ivan Parker, Guy Penrod
  • 2013: TaRanda Greene
  • 2012: Squire Parsons

Favorite Male Singer

  • Unchanged: Ronnie Booth, Joseph Habedank, Ivan Parker, Arthur Rice
  • 2013: Eric Bennett
  • 2012: Gerald Wolfe

Favorite Female Singer

  • Unchanged: Sheri Easter, Karen Peck Gooch, Kim Hopper, Libbi Stuffle
  • 2013: TaRanda Greene
  • 2012: Susan Whisnant

Favorite Young Artist

  • Unchanged: Morgan Easter, Trey Ivey, Amber Thompson, Jordan Wilburn
  • 2013: Olivia Collingsworth
  • 2012: Phillip Collingsworth

The Collingsworth Family has had a completely unprecedented streak of three consecutive wins for three consecutive siblings – Brooklyn, Courtney, and, last year, Phillip. Will they manage a complete run with Olivia this year?

Favorite Tenor

  • Unchanged: Chris Allman, Michael Booth, Brian Free, David Phelps, David Sutton

Favorite Lead

  • Unchanged: Ronnie Booth, Joseph Habedank, Clayton Inman, Arthur Rice
  • 2013: Gerald Wolfe
  • 2012: Scott Fowler

Favorite Baritone

  • Unchanged: Jim Brady, Rodney Griffin, Scott Inman, Mark Trammell
  • 2013: Mark Lowry
  • 2012: Scott Howard

Favorite Bass

  • Unchanged: Pat Barker, Eric Bennett, Mike Holcomb, Tim Riley
  • 2013: Tracy Stuffle
  • 2012: Glenn Dustin

Favorite Soprano

  • Unchanged: Lauren Talley Alvey, Brooklyn Collingsworth, Karen Peck Gooch, Kim Hopper, Sonya Isaacs Yeary

Favorite Alto

  • Unchanged: Courtney Collingsworth, Sheri Easter, Connie Hopper, Libbi Stuffle, Susan Whisnant

Favorite Musician

  • Unchanged: Kim Collingsworth, Gordon Mote, Jeff Stice, Kevin Williams
  • 2013: Roger Fortner
  • 2012: Stewart Varnado

Favorite Band

  • Unchanged: Dove Brothers, Gaither Vocal Band, Isaacs, Kingdom Heirs, Primitive Quartet

Favorite Songwriter (Performing): 2013: Mark Bishop, Jim Brady, Rodney Griffin, Joseph Habedank, Scott Inman

Favorite Non-Performing Songwriter: 2013: Ricky Free, Marty Funderburk, Mosie Lister, Rebecca Peck, Dianne Wilkinson

The categories were split out from the combined 2012 category, Favorite Songwriter. Last year, the Favorite Songwriter nominees were Jim Brady, Rodney Griffin, Joseph Habedank, Scott Inman, and Dianne Wilkinson. Wilkinson was the only non-performing writer on the list; her move to the Favorite Non-Performing Songwriter category this year appears to have opened the door for Mark Bishop to make his way into the top 5.

Favorite Album

  • Unchanged: Albums from Booth Brothers
  • 2013: Hoppers, Brian Free & Assurance, Greater Vision, Perrys
  • 2012: Legacy Five, Inspirations, Triumphant Quartet, Kingdom Heirs

Favorite Song

  • Unchanged: Songs from Booth Brothers, Brian Free & Assurance, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, McKameys, Perrys, Triumphant Quartet
  • 2013: Songs from Kingdom Heirs, Tribute Quartet, Whisnants
  • 2012: Songs from Karen Peck & New River, Inspirations, Gold City

This year, the Horizon Group award was subdivided into four categories.

  • Favorite New Traditional Quartet: Canton Junction, Carolina Boys, Old Paths, Paul’s Journey, Union Street
  • Favorite New Mixed Group: Allen Family, Heaven’s Mountain Band, Mylon Hayes Family, Sneed Family, Taylors
  • Favorite New Trio: 11th Hour, Beyond the Ashes, Freedom Trio, Hyssongs, Red Roots
  • Favorite New Soloist: Chris Hester, Billy Hodges, Steve Ladd, Abby Paskvan, Angela Primm

Last year’s Horizon Group nominees were: Carolina Boys, Old Paths, Red Roots, Taylors, Wilburn & Wilburn. Of these five, WIlburn & Wilburn was automatically disqualified from eligibility this year by winning last year. The Old Paths, The Taylors, and Red Roots all make another appearance (one each in three different categories); the Carolina Boys do not.

Overall, there is very little change from last year’s top five. Other than a few changes prompted by personnel changes in the last twelve months, most of the changes are one familiar face for another. About the only two that might mark any significant shift in Singing News readers’ loyalties would be TaRanda Greene’s new top 5 nominations for soloist and female singer, and the Collingsworth Family’s top 5 appearance for favorite artist.

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In Pursuit of a Truly Objective Awards Ceremony

A recent commenter noted that by their very nature as fan-voted awards, the Singing News Fan Awards aren’t a particularly objective measure of success. He was right, as are other readers who make the same observation every year. This is a genre in which people pick favorites and then stay loyal to them for a long, long time. If we ask loyal fans their favorites, that’s probably not the most objective measure of success.

If we seek greater objectivity, perhaps we should follow the lead of other genres and institute peer-voted industry awards. Problem is, peers can also be and often are subjective and vote for people whom they personally like. So that also is probably not the most objective measure of success.

We could get even greater objectivity if we determine awards the way that NQC determined this year’s Songwriter award—based on the Singing News Radio Airplay charts. Problem is, there’s still some level of subjectivity there; no matter how good a song is, Southern Gospel radio DJs are also humans and prone to subjectively vote for songs from artists (and radio promoters) that they personally like.

(Of course, far be it from me to say that DJs don’t give the next “Canaanland is Just in Sight” a fair shot, too. Those exceptions happen, but most songs on the charts are from established artists or at least established promoters.)

So let’s say that fan votes, peer votes, and DJ votes are all too subjective. We could get even greater objectivity if we could obtain actual airplay reports from performance rights agencies (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, and SoundExchange). Since those reflect actual airplay across thousands if not tens of thousands of venues, they are more objective. But, even here, there is some level of subjectivity: To this day, most airplay decisions are made by human beings capable of subjective opinions—with the program directors at a few large stations sometimes having a substantial impact on the end result.

Perhaps we could base a truly objective awards ceremony on actual sales reports from Nielsen SoundScan, tracking as fans vote with their wallets. There’s only one problem: Many if not most Southern Gospel groups don’t bother reporting their sales through SoundScan, and a very significant percentage of Southern Gospel album sales are at concert tables.

(And while those numbers are quite objective, many would argue that they aren’t the only valid indicator of success. Legend has it that the Blackwood Brothers outsold the Statesmen by 3-1 or more back in the groups’ glory days, but nobody would claim the Blackwood Brothers were three times more successful.)

In the end, then, it seems that the relentless pursuit of objectivity rapidly leads us into absurdity.

So let’s take a step back. Of course, as another reader will invariably point out every year, none of this matters from the vantage point of eternity. Go ahead and throw up an online poll here or there, and let an accounting firm certify that there aren’t duplicate votes if you like. Cheer on Southern Gospel’s finest once or twice a year, as they thank fans for their support and recognition. But let’s not take any of this too seriously.

(It’s not like most groups, especially the ones at the top, take it all that seriously themselves.)

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Singing News #1 Analysis: By Songwriter

Last updated 2/16/2015, with the March 2015 chart.

Which songwriters have had the most #1 hits, and spent the most months at #1?

Number of #1 Hits:

  1. 20: Gerald Crabb (Trail Of Tears, The Lamb, The Lion And The King, I Sure Miss You, The Healer, Not Even A Stone, The Walk, I Take Him Back, The Cross, Jesus Will Do What You Can’t, He Came Looking For Me, The Shepherd’s Call, Through The Fire, That’s No Mountain, Don’t You Wanna Go, Please Come Down To Me, Please Forgive Me, Hold Me While I Cry, The Reason That I’m Standing,Thank God For The Preacher, The Debt)
  2. 15: Rodney Griffin (I Choose, God Saw a Cross, Above and Beyond, I Know I’m Going There, He Locked the Gates, My Name Is Lazarus, Just One More Soul, He’s Still Waiting By The Well, Never Been, Do You Want to Be Forgiven, What You Took From Me, If You Knew Him, Masterpiece of Mercy, Looking For The Grace, Preacher Tell It Like It Is)
  3. 14: Dianne Wilkinson (Boundless Love, What We Needed, Tell Me Why, He Said, Peter James and John, King Jesus is Coming, What Salvation’s Done For Me, Just Preach Jesus, Good News From Jerusalem, Just Beyond The Sunset, The Borrowed Tomb, Long Live The King, I’ll Know I’m Home, Christ Is Still The King)
  4. 10: Ronny Hinson (Two Winning Hands, Mercy Built A Bridge, The Lighthouse, He Pilots My Ship, I’m Just Waiting For My Ride, Notified, I Feel a Little Song Coming On, God’s Gonna Do The Same For You And Me, When He Was On The Cross, Oasis)
    10: Joel Lindsey (New Day Dawning, He Made a Change, Reason Enough, I Wish I Could Have Been There, Born to Climb, Celebrate Me Home, Love Came Calling, Blue Skies Coming, That’s Why)
  5. 8: Wayne Haun (I Wish I Could Have Been There, Born to Climb, Celebrate Me Home, Blue Skies Coming, Love Came Calling, The Debt, Reason Enough, That’s Why)
  6. 7: Phil Cross (Jesus Built A Bridge, I Am Redeemed, The Key, Yes I Am, When I Get Carried Away, Saved To The Uttermost, Wedding Music)
    7: Marcia Henry (Last Night, Nail it to the Cross, A Greater Yes, God Likes to Work, Is Anything Too Hard for God, I’ll Pray For You, I Know Enough)
  7. 6: Jeff Steele (I Must Tell Somebody, God Kept His Promise, I Got Up And Went, We Want America Back, Whispered Prayers, Be Not Afraid)
    6: Sandy Knight (I Think I’ll Read it Again, John Saw, The Next Cloud, I’ll Not Turn My Back on Him Now, Hello in Heaven, Somebody Touched the Lord)
    6: Sheryl Farris (A Borrowed Tomb, I’ve Won, The Good News, I Will Trust You Lord, I Keep Praying, Getting Used To The Dark)
    6: Matthew Browder (Message Of The Cross, Land Of No Goodbyes, Praise You In This Valley, He Is Alive, Lift Up His Name, Listening For The Shout)
  8. 5: Joel Hemphill (I’m In This Church; He’s Still Working On Me; Good Things; It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built The Ark; Thank God I’m Free)
    5: Chris Binion (King Jesus is Coming, Right On Time, He Knows My Name, God’s Bigger Than That, The Answer is Christ)
    5: Sonya Isaacs Yeary (Your Cries Have Awoken the Master, A Miracle Today, Stand Still, From the Depths of My Heart; Mighty Big God)
    5: Kyla Rowland (One Scarred Hand, I Rest My Case at the Cross, Safe Thus Far, Did I Mention, I Got A Hold of God This Morning)
    5: Jerry Salley (The Broken Ones, I Want to Thank You, John in the Jordan, Between 12 and 33, Good News From Jerusalem
    5: Rebecca Peck (God Sits On High, His Life For Mine, Up Above, The Borrowed Tomb, Christ Is Still The King)
  9. 4: Carroll McGruder (We Have a Savior, I’m Going Home with Jesus, Saved By Grace, I Lean on You Lord)
    4: Harold Lane (King Jesus, What Sins Are You Talking About, Touring the City, I’m Standing on the Solid Rock)
    4: Mark Bishop (You Can’t Ask Too Much of My God, Can I Pray For You, I Got Here as Fast as I Could, I’m Listening For the Call)
    4: Rusty Golden (What Salvation’s Done For Me, I Want to Thank You, John in the Jordan, Between 12 and 33)
    4: Sue C. Smith (Over and Over, On the Banks of the Promised Land, The Debt, Calvary’s Cry)
  10. 3: Aaron Wilburn (What a Beautiful Day, Four Days Late, The Reason That I’m Standing)
    3: Dottie Rambo (Tiny, I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before, Sheltered in the Arms of God)
    3: Kirk Talley (Step Into the Water, Joy on the Other Side of Jordan, Wedding Music)
    3: Larry Petree (God Likes to Work, By Faith I Can Touch Him, Praise God It’s Settled I’m Saved)
    3: LaVerne Tripp (I Know, That Day is Almost Here, After Calvary)
    3: Mike Payne (When He Was On the Cross, Out Of This World, Angels Step Back)
    3: Rebecca Isaacs Bowman (Your Cries Have Awoken the Master, A Miracle Today, Stand Still)
    3: Rick Hendrix (You’ll Never Run Out of the Blood, When There’s No Hope There is Grace, He Chose Me)
    3: Ricky Atkinson (Resting Place, I Have Not Forgotten, Be Not Afraid)
    3: Kenny Hinson (Call Me Gone, God’s Gonna Do the Same For You and Me, Oasis)
    3: Tim Greene (When I Knelt the Blood Fell, Jesus’ Rocking Chair, In the Twinkling of an Eye)
    3: Kenna Turner West (Calvary’s Cry, Revival, Finish Well)
    3: Karen Peck Gooch (Hey, Revival, Finish Well)
    3: Don Poythress (The Promise, Revival, Finish Well)
    3: Ernie Haase (He Made A Change, Reason Enough, That’s Why)

Months spent at #1:

  1. 31: Gerald Crabb
  2. 30: Ronnie Hinson
  3. 21: Harold Lane
  4. 17: Phil Cross
  5. 16: Rodney Griffin
    16: Dianne Wilkinson
  6. 15: Aaron Wilburn
    15: Joel Hemphill
    15: John Stallings (one song)
    15: LaVerne Tripp
  7. 14: Kirk Talley
  8. 13: Mike Payne
    13: Sandy Knight
  9. 11: Jeff Steele
  10. 9: Joel Lindsey
  11. 8: Greg Day and Chuck Day
    8: Mark Farrow (one song)
    8: Kenny Hinson
    8: Sheryl Farris
    8: Tim Greene
    8: Tracy Dartt (one song)
    8: Wayne Haun
    8: Marcia Henry

Some of the songs are co-writes. I only included songwriters with three or more #1 hits (with exceptions on the second list for songwriters with 1 or 2 who had a song stay 5 or more months at #1).

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Singing News #1 Hits Analysis: By Label

Last updated 2/16/2015, with the March 2015 chart.

Which record companies have had the most #1 hits, and spent the most months at #1?

Number of #1 Hits:

  1. 74: Crossroads (39 for Horizon, 29 for Sonlite, 1 for Vine, 1 for Parable, 2 non-imprint)
  2. 60: Daywind
  3. 28: Benson (16 for Heartwarming, 12 for RiverSong) (2 songs in 1970-71 shared)
  4. 25: Canaan (3 songs in 1970-71 shared)
  5. 18: EMI (9 Spring House, 9 Spring Hill)
  6. 14: United Independent Artists
  7. 11: MorningStar
  8. 7: Family Music Group
  9. 7: Homeland
  10. 5: Calvary
  11. 3: ACA
  12. 3: Cross and Crown
  13. 3: Mansion

Number of Months spent at #1:

  1. 102: Canaan (15 months in 1970-71 shared)
  2. 93: Benson (60 for Heartwarming, 33 for RiverSong) (17 months in 1970-71 shared)
  3. 92: Crossroads (48 for Horizon, 36 for Sonlite, 1 for Vine, 1 for Parable, 2 non-imprint)
  4. 75: Daywind
  5. 30: MorningStar
  6. 26: EMI (14 Spring Hill, 12 Spring House)
  7. 17: United Independent Artists
  8. 15: Skylite (all from its one #1 hit, the Blackwood Brothers’ “Learning to Lean”)
  9. 13: Homeland
  10. 12: Calvary
  11. 11: Family Music Group
  12. 6: ACA
  13. 4: Cross and Crown
  14. 3: Mansion

With one exception, I only included record companies that had three or more #1 hits. That one exception was Skylite; though it only had one #1 hit, that one hit was the longest-running in chart history!

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Singing News announces 2012 Fan Awards Top 10

Singing News announced the Top 10 nominees in the 2012 Fan Awards yesterday evening. 

Most notably, Tribute Quartet has a net 5 nomination gain over their 2011 nomination count. This is on the strength of their breakout album The Waiting is Over (reviewed here)—cementing that album’s status as a breakout.

The Inspirations tied for the net 5 nomination gain over 2011; this is largely since the Hosterman/Ragan/Epley/Holcomb has stayed together for long enough that their fans to know and nominate the names of the new members.

Three artists had a net three-nomination gain: The Browns, Legacy Five (thanks to Trey Ivey), and Wilburn and Wilburn. 

I had a little too much spare time on my hands while waiting on election results last night, so I broke each category’s returns down to see year-to-year change. Click on “more reading” to see the full breakdown.

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Singing News posts first Weekly Chart

Last September, Singing News announced the launch of a weekly radio chart. That chart launched today and is here (subscriber-only link).

The Kingdom Heirs kick off the chart in the #1 spot with “Tell Me Why.” It seems that much of the rest of this top 10 chart, though, is filled with fairly new singles; several are recently released, and four of the ten did not appear on last week’s chart. Could this chart ultimately play a role in cycling singles through more quickly?

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Singing News November 2011: Tidbits and Intentional Misunderstandings

In this month’s Singing News:

  • Page 2: Legacy Five has “A Wonderful Life.”
  • Page 4: How could the editor forget the Pilgrims?
  • Page 5: “27/’Unforgiven’/Adam Crabb.” Why did he put his name after that?
  • Page 14: Ivan forgot “Greatly.”
  • Page 20: A most unlikely Southern Gospel artist wins “Nashville 2011 Top 25” beauty pageant . . . (“Let the reader understand.”)
  • Page 32: At least one reader non-artist reader of this blog was spotted here. Can you find more?
  • Page 45: Southern Gospel at the “Manatee!”
  • Page 63: Bluegrass Chart: “5/’Gonna be Movin’/ Balsam Range.” That will be a difficult chore as many of them are over 6000 feet tall! “With God all things are possible.”
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