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.”

Read More

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.

Read More

Singing News announces Top 10 nominees for 2013 Fan Awards

Singing News announced the top 10 nominees for the 2013 Fan Awards yesterday afternoon. Among the most notable narratives to emerge this year are the emergence of the Old Paths and, carried over somewhat from last year, Tribute Quartet as new leaders in the genre. Also notable are the new names we see by Songwriter being split into two categories and Horizon Group category being broken into four.

Here’s a 2012/2013 comparison of all the categories (except for radio DJs):

Favorite Artist
2013: Collingsworth Family, Mark Trammell Qt, McKameys
2012: Hoppers, Inspirations, Legacy Five
Both: Booth Brothers, Brian Free & Assurance, Greater Vision, Kingdom Heirs, Ivan Parker, Perrys, Triumphant Quartet

Traditional Quartet
2013: Old Paths
2012: Blackwood Brothers
Both: Brian Free & Assurance, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Gold City, Inspirations, Kingdom Heirs, Legacy Five, Mark Trammell Qt, Tribute Qt, Triumphant Qt

Mixed Group
(no change)
Both: Browns, Collingsworth Family, Crist Family, Diplomats, Hoppers, Isaacs, McKameys, Perrys, Talleys, Taylors

2013: Red Roots, Three Bridges
2012: HisSong, Pfeifers
Both: Booth Brothers, Bowling Family, Greater Vision, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Karen Peck & New River, Nelons, Sisters, Whisnants

2013: Michael Combs
2012: Janet Paschal
Both: Mark Bishop, Adam Crabb, Jason Crabb, TaRanda Greene, Marshall Hall, Ivan Parker, Squire Parsons, Guy Penrod, Charlotte Ritchie

Favorite Male Singer
2013: Eric Bennett, Guy Penrod
2012: Scott Fowler, Mark Trammell
Both: Michael Booth, Ronnie Booth, Jason Crabb, Brian Free, Joseph Habedank, Ivan Parker, Arthur Rice, Gerald Wolfe

Favorite Female Singer
2013: Connie Hopper
2012: Charlotte Ritchie
Both: Lauren Talley Alvey, Peg McKamey Bean, Sheri Easter, Karen Peck Gooch, TaRanda Greene, Kim Hopper, Libbi Perry Stuffle, Debra Talley, Susan Whisnant

Young Artist
2013: Daniel Ashmore (Old Paths), Michaela Brown, Olivia Collingsworth
2012: Adam Brown, Phil Collingsworth, Luke Vaught
Both: Riley Clark, Morgan Easter, Eli Fortner, Trey Ivey, Amber Thompson, Austin Whisnant, Jordan Wilburn

2013: Riley Harrison Clark, Jeremy Peace
2012: Ernie Haase, Jodi Hosterman
Both: Chris Allman, Michael Booth, Brian Free, Gus Gaches, Jerry Martin, David Phelps, Eric Phillips, David Sutton

2013: Nick Trammell
2012: Dustin Sweatman
Both: Ronnie Booth, Gary Casto, Scott Fowler, Joseph Habedank, Clayton Inman, David Ragan, Arthur Rice, Bill Shivers, Gerald Wolfe

2013: Mark Lowry
2012: Steve French
Both: Jim Brady, Jon Epley, Rodney Griffin, Scott Howard, Scott Inman, Derrick Selph, Josh Singletary, Mark Trammell, Bryan Walker

2013: Matt Fouch
2012: Glenn Dustin
Both: Pat Barker, Eric Bennett, Jeff Chapman, Anthony Davis, Mike Holcomb, Jeremy Lile, Ray Dean Reese, Tim Riley, Tracy Stuffle

2013: Kelly Bowling, Shelly Brown, Mary Jane Carter
2012: Jackie Crist, Kim Ruppe Lord, Jessica Trammell
Both: Lauren Talley Alvey, Brooklyn Collingsworth, Connie Fortner, Karen Peck Gooch, Kim Hopper, Amber Thompson, Sonya Isaacs Yeary

Both: Peg McKamey Bean, Kelly Nelon Clark, Courtney Collingsworth, Sheri Easter, Sheryl Farris, Connie Hopper, Susan Peck Jackson, Libbi Perry Stuffle, Debra Talley, Susan Whisnant

2013: Bryan Elliott, Matthew Holt
2012: Dennis Murphy, Stewart Varnado
Both: Kim Collingsworth, Roger Fortner, Trey Ivey, Gordon Mote, Josh Singletary, Jeff Stice, Andy Stringfield, Kevin Williams

Both: Dove Brothers, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Gaither Vocal Band, Inspirations, Isaacs, Jason Crabb Band, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Kingdom Heirs, McKameys, Primitive Quartet

2013: Sheryl Farris
2012: Dianne Wilkinson (but see non-performing songwriter; this category isn’t quite an apples-to-apples comparison)
Both: Mark Bishop, Jim Brady, Gerald Crabb, Phil Cross, Rodney Griffin, Joseph Habedank, Ronny Hinson, Scott Inman, Kyla Rowland

2013 artists represented: Perrys, Hoppers, Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, Gaither Vocal Band, Old Paths
2012 artists represented: Legacy Five, Inspirations, Libbi Perry Stuffle, Gold City, Triumphant Quartet, Kingdom Heirs
Both: Booth Brothers, McKameys, Greater Vision, Tribute Quartet

Non-Performing Songwriter
2013: Chris Binion, Lance Carpenter, Ricky Free, Marty Funderburk, Marcia Henry, Barbara Huffman, Joel Lindsey, Mosie Lister, Rebecca Peck, Dianne Wilkinson

New Traditional Quartet
2013: Canton Junction, Carolina Boys, Common Bond Qt, Keepers of the Faith, Old Paths, Paul’s Journey, Providence Qt, Rebels Qt, Sanctuary Qt, Union Street

New Mixed Group
2013: Allen Family, Bontrager Family, Harper Family, Heaven’s Mountain Band, Littles, Mylon Hayes Family, Southern Raised Bluegrass, Sneed Family, Taylors, Williamsons

New Trio
2013: 11th Hour, Barry Rowland & Deliverance, Beyond the Ashes, Declaration, Erwins, Freedom Trio, Hyssongs, Porter Family, Promise Trio, Red Roots

New Soloist
2013: Anita Davis, Bethany Ellis, Randall Garland, Chris Hester, Billy Hodges, Steve Ladd, Michael Lee, Tim Livingston, Abby Paskavan, Angela Primm

Song of the Year
2013 artists represented: Whisnants, Kingdom Heirs
2012 artists represented: Inspirations, Kingsmen, Karen Peck & New River, Gold City (12 nominees in 2012 due to three-way 10th-place tie)
Both: Tribute Quartet, Greater Vision, Perrys, Brian Free & Assurance, Legacy Five, Booth Brothers, McKameys, Triumphant Quartet

Read More

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.)

Read More

Singing News Fan Awards: 2012 Winners

Singing News announced the 2012 winners to the Fan Awards this afternoon. As usual, the Booth Brothers and Triumphant Quartet had the strongest showings. The Booth Brothers picked up seven of the twenty-one awards, while Triumphant won four.

The Collingsworth Family won Mixed Group of the Year for the first time; they also continued their streak at the Young Artist position. Two years ago, oldest sister Brooklyn took home the trophy; Courtney took it home last year, and Phil Collingsworth Jr. won it this year. This is the first time a group has had a streak of this nature; incidentally, the only comparable situation in the history of the award happened the preceding two years, with Perrys members Nick Trammell (2008) and Joseph Habedank (2009).

Wilburn & Wilburn took home awards for Horizon Group of the Year and Horizon Individual of the Year (Jordan), proving that the online buzz about their group is shared within the Singing News fan base.

Here’s the full list of awards handed out in the awards ceremony:

  • Mixed Group: The Collingsworth Family
  • Soloist: Ivan Parker
  • Horizon Group Of The Year: Wilburn & Wilburn
  • Horizon Individual Of The Year: Jordan Wilburn
  • Tenor: Michael Booth
  • Alto: Libbi Perry Stuffle
  • Lead Singer: Ronnie Booth
  • Baritone: Jim Brady
  • Soprano: Kim Hopper
  • Bass Singer: Eric Bennett
  • Band: Kingdom Heirs
  • Musician: Jeff Stice
  • Trio: Booth Brothers
  • Young Artist: Phillip Collingsworth
  • Male Singer: Ronnie Booth
  • Female Singer: Kim Hopper
  • Traditional Quartet: Triumphant Quartet
  • Songwriter Of The Year: Rodney Griffin
  • Album Of The Year: Songs From The Heart- Triumphant Quartet
  • Song Of The Year: She Still Remembers Jesus’s Name- Booth Brothers
  • Artist Of The Year: Booth Brothers
  • Norcross-Templeton Award: Mike Holcomb
Read More

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.

Read More

Singing News Fan Awards announced: Live Blog

The Singing News Fan Awards are being presented this afternoon in Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

  • Favorite Musician: Jeff Stice. No surprises there!
  • Favorite Young Artist: Courtney Collingsworth. Brooklyn took the award home last year; this year, it was her equally talented sister’s turn. Unlike last year, when the family was not present and booking agent Michael Davis had to step forward to accept on Brooklyn’s behalf, Courtney was present in person to accept. Best tweet: Joseph Habedank’s “The 2011 Favorite Young Artist of the year is… Courtney Collingsworth. She should join the Booth Brothers. CONGRATS!”
  • Favorite Tenor: Michael Booth. No surprises there! Classic Michael: “You should at least be high enough to sing lead for Brian Free & Assurance to hold this trophy!”
  • Horizon Group: Ball Brothers. It’s well-deserved. They have taken the slow and steady course to get here, and their patience and persistence has paid off.
  • Favorite Baritone: Jim Brady. No surprises there!
  • Favorite Soprano: Kim Hopper. No surprises there! She dedicated it to her little brother, Tony Greene, who passed away a year ago today: “This is for you … I want you to take it and lay it at the feet of Jesus.” Emotional moment for sure!
  • Horizon Individual: Courtney Collingsworth. This is the first time any individual has won Horizon Individual and Favorite Young Artist in the same year. Wow! Courtney’s acceptance speeches must be the production team’s dream: Heartfelt, but also to the point.
  • Favorite Male Singer: Ronnie Booth. No surprises there! He told a story of an eight-year-old boy who was dying of cancer; one of the final things he told his father was, “Daddy, tell Mr. Ronnie and Mr. Jim and Mr. Michael to look for me at Jesus’ feet.” Ronnie said, “That’s why we do what we do.” Another emotional moment!
  • Favorite Bass: Eric Bennett. No surprises there!
  • Favorite Lead Singer: Ronnie Booth. No surprises there!
  • Favorite Alto: Libbi Perry Stuffle. She’s won four times in the last decade, as has Sheri Easter. Debra Talley has won twice. So it’s not a huge surprise, but was slightly less a lock than some of the other categories.
  • Favorite Mixed Group: Hoppers. No surprises there!
  • Favorite Female Singer: Kim Hopper. No surprises there!
  • Favorite Traditional Quartet: Triumphant Quartet. No surprises there!
  • Favorite Soloist: Ivan Parker. No surprises there!
  • Templeton-Norcoss Award: Peg McKamey Bean. Well-deserved!
  • Favorite Trio: Booth Brothers. No surprises there!
  • Favorite Band: Gaither Band. This is intriguing; evidently the fans voted for the band with whom they connected on the personality level. Gaither’s guitarist (Kevin Williams) and pianist (Gordon Mote) are both technically superb musicians. But, in all likelihood, fans voted for them because they like the way Gaither works them into his comedy routines.
  • Favorite Songwriter: Rodney Griffin. No surprises there!
  • Favorite Song: “Love Came Calling,” Triumphant Quartet. Slight surprise; some didn’t expect them to win, since they had two songs up.
  • Favorite Album: Love Came Calling, Triumphant Quartet. Another slight surprise.
  • Favorite Artist: Booth Brothers. No surprises there!
Statistical notes:
  • This is Kim Hopper’s fifteenth consecutive favorite soprano win. This brings her into a tie with Roger Bennett for most wins at a position.
  • As noted above, this year is the first year an artist won both Horizon Individual and Young Artist.

Now I thought I was being relatively concise in my coverage, but Jared Stuffle has me beaten fair and square. He managed to list (virtually) all the winners in five words: “Awards are over…nothing different.” 

Read More

Singing News may cancel live stream of Fan Awards

The Singing News Fan Awards are at 3 P.M. ET tonight in Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. They had announced that live video of the program would be streamed on their website. However, they just posted that technical issues  may prevent this.

They will still post an on-demand video after the fact, as soon as tomorrow. An hour-delayed audio feed will also be streamed on Solid Gospel, starting at 4 P.M. ET.

This situation may be clarified later today.

Read More