God still has everything under control

I was watching a program recently, and this caught my attention:

I look at the television sometimes, and my heart bleeds. I’m sure you’re all like I am. You feel so helpless about what’s going on, and the pain of those people, and you say “man, the world is out of control.” No. God still has everything under control.

Sounds a lot like something someone would say after today’s events, doesn’t it…but it wasn’t. In fact, it wasn’t said this year, in the past five years, or even in the past ten years.

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How Important is Stage Presence?

stage presence (n.): the ability to command an audience with impressive style or manner

This is a question I have thought about quite a bit over the years. There are a number of ways groups embody these two words. Some groups are on one extreme, standing flat-footed for practically the entire concert. Other groups are on the opposite extreme, making use of every square inch of room they have on stage. Most groups are somewhere in-between.

More than that, I think stage presence also involves the energy of the individuals. If one individual has a foul mood going into a concert, it can drag the whole group down. I realize there are circumstances that cannot be controlled, whether its family trouble, bus issues, or whatever, you still have to put on a show for the audience.

Speaking of putting on a show, I think this is something that has a negative connotation in the gospel music field. Like it or not, artists are there to put on a show. You can hide behind doing it “for ministry” all you like, but you are putting on a show so that those in the audience will buy your products. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be on a bus most every weekend. But that’s not the point of this post.

Putting on a show does not necessarily mean running and jumping and dancing around the stage. You don’t have to do those things in order to put on a show. Some groups are able to pull it off in doses, and more power to them, but when I say groups need to put on a show, this is not what I mean.

There are little things that I can pick up on in and individual’s stage presence. I mentioned energy earlier. This is HUGE in my books. Once again, this doesn’t have to mean moving around, but it can show on your face how much or how little you want to be there. Also, if someone else in your group is singing a solo, don’t think that people in the audience aren’t watching you. In fact, this is one of my favorite times to watch people in a concert setting.

There are individuals that you can see on stage and it is very obvious that they LOVE what they are doing. The most obvious example of this is Matt Fouch. I’m going to post one clip, but there are more examples out there I could use. Watch him during Gus’ solo, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Also, if you purchased the NQC webcast, watch the Monday night Jubilee set, especially Wedding Music. You just couldn’t wipe the smile off of Matt’s face.

There are so many more examples I could go into, both past and present. George Younce and Glen Payne were two of the best, and they hardly ever moved around stage. They had an energy and a stage presence, and I believe that was a major factor in their popularity. Union Street and Canton Junction are newer groups that also have a great stage presence.

Personnel changes are something that can also alter a group’s stage presence. While an individual can be replaced vocally, groups also should take the collective energy of the group when making a change.

There’s one group in the 1980s and 1990s that was considered one of the best on the road. They had some personnel changes, but the group energy remained high over the balance of those two decades. But in the 00s, more personnel changes were made, and it was around that time that their popularity dipped a bit. Still popular, but not at the level they once were. I can’t pin-point which specific change was responsible because I wasn’t following southern gospel closely at the time, but there were three changes over the course of five years. The group is regaining some of its stage presence, but its still not where it was yet.

As I wrap this up, I want to go back to the definition I posted at the beginning, as well as putting on a show vs. ministry. I never want to question how much ministering a group is doing in their concerts, because that is not for me to judge. However, even in ministry, putting on a show is still important.

Looking at the definition of stage presence, it is “the ability to command the audience…” Without stage presence, it is more difficult to capture your audience’s attention. And without their attention, you can’t really expect them to be ministered to.

How important is stage presence? I’d say it is pretty important.

Note: I realize I rambled a bit, and may not have expressed myself clearly enough in some areas. If you would like further clarification on something, please leave me a comment below.

NQC Anticipation

It’s that time of year again!

My anticipation for NQC is very high. While there are some groups that will not be there, there are others that I’m getting excited to hear from. I’ve narrowed down the focus of my anticipation to the five things I’m most looking forward to. Here we go.

5. Parade of Pianos return – It has been a couple of years since the last PoP. I’m not even sure I’ve seen one other than YouTube highlights, but I’ve heard it’s a great show. Tim Parton is hosting the showcase, so you know it will be high quality.

4. “A Funny Thing Happened…” Showcase – I love hearing stores of yesteryear, and funny ones are even better. And looking at the list of guys involved with this showcase, I think it could be quite funny. Hopefully, Karen Peck still has her voice this year.

3. All Quartets Night – This has probably been the biggest, and most talked about, change at this year’s NQC. The whole night will be filled with some of the top quartets in the industry. No trios, no mixed groups. All quartets, all the time. Plus, can you get any better than the choice of Jerry Goff as “host” for the evening?!

2. The new Mark Trammell Quartet – With SG having such a rich history of family groups, I was glad to hear that MTQ’s new lead singer would be Mark’s son, Nick. We know Nick can sing, but I will be interesting to see how the family dynamic adds to the group’s persona on-stage.

1. The new Legacy Five – This is a rather recent addition to my top 5, as this change was only announced a couple of weeks ago. I know we’ve seen glimpses from YouTube clips, but I’m very excited to see Matt Fouch with the guys, and to see how they interact on stage among other things.

What Separates SG From Other Genres

I’ve seen this question asked many times, and I just don’t know how to answer it.

However, yesterday I heard an answer than sums it up completely. I was a little surprised to hear it come from one of the younger and newer artists to the industry, 21-year old Riley Harrison Clark.

Q: What drew you do sing Southern Gospel music?

A: The meat. The meat in the songs, there’s nothing like it. I didn’t grow up listening to SG music, but it was a dream to sing it because with any song you can relate, you can get something from it, you can get fed. I grew up singing P&W music and thats all I did because that’s all I knew. There’s a time and place for that. but P/W is that, it’s praise and worship. But as far as ministry goes, there’s the meat in SG music that isn’t found in a lot of other places. That’s what drew my heart to it, and that’s why we sing it every night, because we do see lives changed 100% at every concert. There’s nothing like it.

That is so true. There’s so many songs that I could point to as a perfect example of a meaty song, but I’m not sure I have the time or space to start that list. I will say the song that I was listening to hours after first hearing to that quote which led me to write this post was “Ask Me Why” by Legacy Five.

I’m not writing this because I think SG is necessarily better than P/W or CCM music, because it’s not. What Riley said is so true. “There’s a time and a place for that.” Our different genres should not be competing against each other, fighting for the right to be called “the best.” I see it written so many places, and it really bugs me. There’s a time and a place for CCM, a time and place for P/W, and a time and place for Southern Gospel. Everyone is still glorifying God with their talents, so why does it matter which style is the “best”?

So with that said, what are some of your favorite meaty songs? (apologies to any SG vegetarians)

Note: The interview I took that quote from can be seen in its 20-minute entirety here.

EHSS World Travelers

These guys have been all over the world in the past few years. The only continent they haven’t sang in is Antarctica, and I wouldn’t put it pass them to change that.

This time, they were in Hungary to perform at the Franklin Graham Crusade of Hope in Budapest. According to a Facebook post made by Ernie, there were roughly 15 thousand people in attendance. Of those 15 thousand, 774 of them made professions of faith during the altar call. PTL!

A video has surfaced of them singing two songs, “Since Jesus Passed By” and “Glory to God in the Highest.” This is the first time I’ve heard them do Since Jesus Passed By since Ryan and Tim were in the group. Judge for yourselves.

 

Personally, I enjoyed Tim’s solo more than Ian’s. However, I thought Devin brought a great new dynamic when the three higher parts joined in. And then there’s that live band. Overall, I’d probably still prefer the old version, but it doesn’t mean this version is bad. I just like it less.

What do you think?

BTW the world travelers continue for the next two days as they are in the Netherlands for two concerts before returning home. Please pray for their safety, and that lives would be touched through their ministry.

An EHSS without Doug Anderson?

First off, let me say that Doug Anderson has NOT left EHSS.

Now that that is settled, he was not on the road with the guys this weekend. Instead, he was at home with his daughter for her First Communion. I definitely respect Doug for taking time of the road so he could be with his family for this special event.

So back to EHSS. Similar to when Devin McGlamery was off the road after his injury, Wayne Haun stepped in to fill the void left by Doug. Doug is no easy void to fill, but Wayne did a respectable job from what I can tell. Here’s a video of Wayne singing one of Doug’s signature songs from the latest project, “Sometimes I Wonder.”

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound is (are?) blessed to have a pianist on the road with them that has the versatility of a Wayne Haun. It also helps that Wayne wrote many of the newer songs they perform on stage, making the transition run that much more smoothly.

The Decline in Popularity of Gaither Videos

When Bill and Gloria Gaither first started the Homecoming series, popularity was very high. However, over time, that popularity has fallen off, leading some websites to mock the continuation of the video series (though I have to admit that I chuckled when I read it). While many will probably attribute the decline in popularity to the passings of some of gospel music’s greatest legends, I think there may be another reason.

I believe one of the reasons the Homecoming series has fallen off is due to some poor song choices to use on the video. Not that the songs are bad, but I just don’t think they had the same impact that others would have.

When the Homecoming series started, a large majority of the songs sung were ones that a majority of the viewing audience. However, as time went on in the series, they started to feature newer songs sung by the individual artists. You didn’t have the same sing-along feel that the early videos had.

However, the recent “Tent Revival Homecoming” and “The Old Rugged Cross” videos were very popular. These videos didn’t feature the legends of the early homecomings, but rather it was the songs that brought me back to the feelings I had watching the earlier videos.

So, this is my personal memo to Bill Gaither, even though he will likely never read this. There was an electricity in those early Homecoming videos that was second-to-none. Even though you cannot physically bring back some of the gospel legends that helped make those videos great, your song selection was another strong element of the videos. Keep the old classics fresh and alive by introducing them to a whole new generation of gospel music lovers. In my mind, thats what makes your videos great. Sure it was nice to see Vestal, George, Glen, Rex, J.D., and others, but what made the videos great at least to me was the feeling of singing along with my favorite artists. However, its difficult for your viewing audience to sing along to songs that they do not know.

Jesus Wasn’t Any Other Man

Any other man who was sentenced to be killed
would beg for mercy from the courts that day
Any other man looking at his mother’s grief
would call the waiting angels to escape;
but Jesus wasn’t any other man

Jesus wasn’t any other man. I don’t know about you, but those words really capture the essence of this entire Easter season. Think about this. If you were a perfect man (or woman), would you be willing to die on the cross for crimes you didn’t commit? I know I probably wouldn’t.  But Jesus did.

Like Father, Like Son

Both of these videos have been posted elsewhere, but I thought it would be cool to put them together in the same post.

Like father (Ernie):

 

Like son (Eric):

 

I never got the chance to see either of these tenors with their respective groups the first time around, so Im just soaking it all in now and making up for lost time!