Friday News Roundup #218

Worth Knowing

  • Longtime Diplomats bass singer Joe Brown has returned to the group.
  • Blackwood Quartet member David Mann is coming off the road due to voice issues. In an open letter, he commented: “My windpipe was full of mold that, I later found out, I had been breathing in from a mold infested vehicle. This problem had collapsed a portion of my airways, and prevented me from using more than 1/3 of my lung capacity.” On doctor’s advice, he has decided to pursue non-musical lines of work, at least for the next several years.
  • Roger Talley entertained the audience at a recent Talleys concert in Norway by coming on stage dressed in the costume of their Olympic curling team.

Worth Reading

On Monday’s “Creating Trends” post, Pat Barker posted insightful thoughts on the relative merits of gimmicks and the songs to back them up:

I was told by one of my managers in the early days of me traveling that most Gospel music fans were also wrestling fans. In those days I was still trying to be “High Church” in my presentation because that is how I was taught. The problem was that it wasn’t getting past the first row. His point was that most of the fans want a gimmick. They want something they can identify with every time they see you. That is true.

The dilemma is presenting the gimmick with class so it doesn’t come off as hokey or “local group” for lack of a better term. A gimmick can be anything from an old man to two microphones. It can also be a white flag or a passionate piano player. There has to be something that brings the people to the concert night after night.

Here, in my opinion, is where many groups miss the boat. YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE SONGS TO BACK UP THE GIMMICK! Glen was always the old man, but they didn’t have their greatest success till We Shall See Jesus. Brian Free was always precious, but Midnight Cry was their launching pad. Gerald has always made fun of Rodney, but Lazarus, to this day, has to be sung night after night. Thank God that at the end of the day, whether you like wrestling or not, It’s all about the song. That’s the way it should be and I hope that’s the way it always will be.

Worth Watching

One bass singer, Legacy Five’s Matt Fouch, interviews another, the Mark Trammell Quartet’s Pat Barker:

Also of note: Reality TV stars The Duggar Family attended a recent Collingsworth Family concert. They invited the Collingsworth Family over after the concert, and filmed and posted a video of the Collingsworth Family singing “God Bless America” a cappella in the Duggar’s living room:

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Audience Response

We’ve all heard a tenor or bass singing out of his natural range, a worn-out comedy routine, or a challenging song attempted by someone who isn’t able to do it justice. I cannot tell you how many things I’ve heard justified with this line: “But the audience responded well.”

Here’s a little secret: (Most) audiences are rooting for the person who is on stage to succeed. If a tenor is pushing the absolute limits of his vocal range, going for a note he probably should have left in the practice room, most audiences aren’t hoping that his voice cracks and he totally flubs the high ending. Even if an audience has heard a joke (like the “sister tenor” joke) so many times that it’s no longer funny, they’ll probably laugh to be polite.

The best emcees recognize that audiences will respond favorably to a lot of things. But they don’t use that as a crutch. Instead, they keep the big picture of what their group wants to accomplish in that concert in mind—edification, entertainment, ministry. Then, from the wide variety of things to which audiences respond positively, they utilize the ones that most effectively take them toward their desired result.

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The Grand New Hymns

Lee Black has written or co-written numerous Southern Gospel hit songs, including the #1 Brian Free & Assurance hit “I Want To Be That Man.” But he doesn’t only write Southern Gospel hit songs; he also writes modern hymns on the side. Here is an example:

Here’s another.

Lee hasn’t been the only one writing songs reminiscent of the grand old hymns. Dianne Wilkinson has written several through the years, from “Of Thee I Sing” (Greater Vision) to “I Am Free” (Mark Trammell Trio) to the recent “Man of Sorrows” (Mark Trammell Quartet). When “Man of Sorrows” came out earlier this year, I noticed a comment criticizing the song for not sounding like a traditional Southern Gospel big ballad. I didn’t reply, since online arguments are usually futile and counterproductive, but I did think, “It wasn’t written to be a big ballad; it was written to be a hymn.” There’s no point in criticizing a dog for not looking like a cat!

There is and should always be a place in our genre for doctrinally sound, Biblically rich lyrics with majestic melodies. To their credit, Southern Gospel has always found a place for the grand old hymns. We need to make sure we also have a place for the grand new hymns.

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