Updates to #1 Hit Analysis posts

Yesterday, I updated the reference section’s Singing News #1 History page, and the accompanying analysis pages. They had been current through the January 2013 charts; they are now current through June 2013. Notable changes include:

On Singing News #1 Hits: Analyzed by Artist:

  • With their March 2013 #1 “All is Well,” The Whisnants’ thirteenth, they remain at 3rd place, but are one away from tying The Crabb Family’s fourteen.
  • With their April 2013 #1 “Just Preach Jesus,” The Kingdom Heirs’ seventh, they move up to a two-way tie for 9th place with The Inspirations. They have now surpassed The Cathedrals’ six #1 hits (though not, of course, the nineteen months The Cathedrals spent at #1).
  • With their May 2013 #1 “I Got a Hold of God This Morning,” The Perrys’ tenth, they now enter a three-way tie for 5th place, joining The Talleys and Gold City.

The page also includes an analysis of the most months spent at #1. The only notable change is that The Whisnants moved up to 11th place.

On Singing News #1 Hits: Analyzed by Label:

  • Crossroads added two #1 hits, going from 65 to 67, remaining in 1st place.
  • Daywind also added two, going from 48 to 50, remaining in 2nd place
  • United Independent Artists added one, going from 13 to 14, and remaining in 6th place.

On Singing News #1 Hits: Analyzed by Songwriter:

  • With her eighth #1, “Just Preach Jesus” (Kingdom Heirs), Dianne Wilkinson moves from a three-way tie for 5th place to a solo 5th place spot.
  • Kyla Rowland’s fifth #1, “I Got A Hold of God This Morning” (Perrys), moves her from a six-way tie for 8th place to a four-way tie for 7th (or 12th, if you account for other ties).
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enLighten moves to permanent home on Sirius/XM dial

Two years ago this month, Sirius/XM announced that it was moving enLighten off of the satellite radio dial and transferring it to an online-only channel. After receiving extensive feedback from Southern Gospel fans, they reversed course and kept it on the air.

After this move, it was placed on channel 18 as a temporary measure. It has remained on this channel, a special events channel, for two years. enLighten has announced that it will be moving to its permanent home next Thursday, May 9, on Sirius XM Channel 65 and Dish TV Channel 6065. This will place them adjacent to SiriusXM’s other two Christian channels, The Message and Praise.

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If Radio Charts Were Like the Old Days

In a discussion last week, a commenter posted an often-repeated observation that Southern Gospel simply doesn’t have the mega-hits it used to have. This post originated as a comment, but ended up being so long that it turned into a post of its own.

It is true that songs fly up and down the charts far faster than they did twenty years ago. Back in the day, “I Can Pray” would have been #1 for 6 months or a year, and everyone in our genre would have heard it many times before its run was done. That song, about six years ago, was the last song to even make it for TWO months!

Let’s just suppose that it had stayed #1 for about six months. What were the next five #1s?

September 2007: A Greater Yes – Whisnants
October 2007: Last Night – Karen Peck & New River
November 2007: If You Only Knew – Inspirations
December 2007: We Have a Savior – Mike and Kelly Bowling
January 2008: Get Away, Jordan – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Now “Last Night” is one of those songs that would probably have also hit #1. Take that chart back 20 years earlier, and I wouldn’t be surprised to have seen “I Can Pray” rule for about six months, and “Last Night” take a couple of months after that.

Or take 2011. “The Shepherd’s Point of View,” which is probably the single strongest song the McKameys have sent to radio in the last half-dozen or maybe dozen years, would have probably stayed #1 from December 2010 through April or May 2011. Then either “Never Walk Alone” or “Love Came Calling” (but not both) would have been #1 for two or three months. Then “Celebrate Me Home” would probably have ruled from July, when it hit #1, through October or November.

It has been correctly observed that #1 hits don’t have the impact they used to have. However, I’m inclined to think that the cause assigned—inferior songs—is incorrect. I lean toward the position that the strong songs we do have disappear from the charts before they’ve been at the top long enough to really establish themselves in the public consciousness.

Once a song has hit #1, most radio DJs will quit charting the song, to make room for the next #1. This has been par for the course for about fifteen years. But is this what is actually best for the songs, the groups, radio, and the genre? Perhaps the jury is out, but I’m inclined to think that the verdict will not be in the affirmative.

Southern Gospel radio is strongest when its DJs play the strongest songs—even if the strongest, most-played song also happened to be the strongest song last month.

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McKameys earn another #1 hit

Multiple sources (first The McKameys’ Facebook page, now Crossroads’ Facebook page) [EDIT, 2/22/13: Broken link removed] are reporting that the #1 hit on the January 2013 Singing News Charts will be The McKameys’ “Unspoken Request.” This song is one of the fastest-rising #1s in Singing News charting history; it debuted at #25 on the November 2012 chart, jumped to #9 in December 2012, and made an especially rare jump from #9 to #1 in the latest chart. I don’t have access to all the years of past charts to verify this, but it could well be the highest a single has jumped to reach the #1 spot. (Update: A sharp-eyed reader with a long memory notes that “God on the Mountain” jumped from #10 to #1 in 1988.)

Also notably, the song features a lead vocal performance from the McKameys’ long-time lead guitarist, Roger Fortner, who has never before been featured on a radio single. (This may actually be his first recorded vocal solo, period, but while I have many of the projects on which he appeared as a McKameys or Inspirations member, I don’t have every single one to verify this with absolute certainty.)

This occasion also called for a refresh of our assorted Singing News Chart Analysis posts. We’ve updated the list of Singing News #1 hits, and our analyses by Artist, Label, and Songwriter. The most notable movement is in the all-time artist chart. With nineteen #1 hits, the McKameys expanded their lead to five over the second-place Crabb Family (fourteen). Interestingly, the Whisnants remain strong, bumping the Kingsmen (eleven) out of third place with their twelve #1 hits.

Those are sheer numbers of #1s; in the months spent at #1 analysis, the McKameys again move into a tie position with the Kingsmen, both groups having spent thirty months at #1.

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Old Paths earn first #1 Hit

The Old Paths announced on Facebook that their current radio single, “Battle Stand,” will be #1 on the Singing News December 2012 charts. [EDIT, 2/22/13: Broken link removed.] It’s encouraging to see them get this level of recognition; they are well-deserving of the honor. 

We’ve been talking them up for almost six years now, including working with them on an mp3 giveaway promotion to debut their 2008 album and including them in a 2008 list we published of Southern Gospel’s top five unsigned artists. (Since that post, of course, they have signed with Crossroads.)

Here’s a video of the group performing the song:

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How do you listen to Southern Gospel on your smartphones?

Reader Donnie Ricks writes in to ask:

Good evening from the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex. Although we are one of the largest metro areas in the nation, there is not a radio station devoted to Southern Gospel music in this part of the State. I\’ve downloaded several Apps for my smart phone which allows me to listen to one of my favorite music genres. My question is, would you be interested in providing a section on Southerngospel Blog which would list those free apps?  This would allow others like myself who would otherwise not be able to listen to this timeless music to to have alternatives

Several years ago, I carried a smartphone for a while. But I decided I’d rather not be always connected, so now I only carry a turned-off, cheap Tracfone in case of emergency. I explained to Donnie that this made me somewhat less than an authority on the topic, but that I’d pass the question along to the readers.

How do you listen to Southern Gospel on your smartphones?

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Mark Trammell Quartet earns first #1 hit

The Mark Trammell Quartet announced on Facebook over the weekend that they have received their first #1 hit, for “I Want to Know.” Trammell founded the group ten years ago, touring as a trio for eight years before becoming a quartet in 2010 with the addition of bass singer Pat Barker. Incidentally, this #1 hit was the first song they singled to radio that featured Barker.

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Listening to Southern Gospel overseas

The other day, I received an email from an 18-year-old Southern Gospel fan in Colombia. He mentioned how the high cost of international shipping made it prohibitively expensive to purchase Southern Gospel recordings from the U.S. So this is a question primarily for international readers: What online radio stations do you use to listen to Southern Gospel outside of the United States? Services like Pandora and Spotify are often limited to a small set of countries, but can you access sites like Live365 or Sunlite Radio’s on-demand stream of The Gospel Greats?

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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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It’s Official: enLighten to stay on Satellite

Last week, Sirius/XM announced that they were pulling enLighten off the satellite airwaves and making it an Internet-only channel. The Southern Gospel industry mobilized fans like I have rarely seen before—yet I will confess that even though I did my part to encourage my readers who were Sirius/XM subscribers to make their voices heard, I was somewhat pessimistic. How often do big New York City corporations listen to a genre the size of Southern Gospel?

Well, now we have an answer. They’ll listen if we all—or, at least, all of us who use their service—speak our minds. Word started circulating yesterday that they were going to keep enLighten on satellite, moving it from channel 34 to channel 18. (Thanks to Sony for pinch-hitting for me, when I was stuck in big-city traffic, and getting the story up!)

enLighten programmer Marlin Taylor circulated word today that it’s official:

Dear Southern Gospel music industry member:

In case you haven’t yet heard … in response to the thousands of E-mails, telephone calls and letters that poured into Sirius XM from the devoted family of enLighten listeners – and your fans – senior management made an “11th hour” decision to rescind the deletion of the channel from the satellite service.

As part of the major channel re-alignment procedure scheduled for last evening, enLighten now resides on Channel 18 on both the Sirius and XM lineups. Most satellite radios will automatically make that move. However, if you encounter anyone who’s radio didn’t change, or is not aware that enLighten has been granted “new life,” please share it with them.

Thank you and bless you … the Lord’s people have united and “won the battle.”

Hallelujah and praise His name.

Marlin

There are two action items of high priority right now:

  1. Bad news has a way of traveling faster than good news. So please make a point to tell whoever you told that it was going off the air that the decision has been reversed.
  2. Southern Gospel is back on the satellite airwaves . . . for now. We want it to stay that way. And since Sirius/XM brass in New York City probably only care about the bottom line, the way to keep it on the airwaves is for all of you who have called over the last week to cancel your subscription to call back and renew.

This is actually a pretty amazing day for Southern Gospel. It’s no little story that a genre whom many industry observers dismiss as a fading niche could pull together and change the minds of the largest—well, the only, to be more precise—satellite radio programmer in the nation.

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