The oldest issue of Singing News in my collection is from July 1970, and that’s the issue I’ll be highlighting today.
A First Time For Everything
- For the first dozen plus years, Singing News was in a newspaper format. The big headline at the top of the July 1970 issue proclaims “International Gospel Song Festival July 10-11.” July 1970 was the first year of the 2-day festival. The annual event would continue until the early 1980s when J D Sumner would sell the National Quartet Convention to J G Whitfield, owner of the International Gospel Song Festival and owner of the Singing News. After Whitfield took over the NQC, he merged it with the IGSF.
- July 1970 marked the first presentation of the Singing News Fan Awards which are described in the same article, since the awards were to be presented as part of the International Gospel Song Festival. Fun Fact: Two weeks from today, Singing News will present the Fan Awards for the 48th consecutive year.
- The front page of the July 1970 issue also featured a description of It’s Happening! Gospel Festival USA, a dramatic tour featuring the Oak Ridge Boys, Stamps Quartet, and the Rambos. The tour was described as “a bold new frontier in gospel and Inspirational music.”
Page two features a photo of Randy Byrd, a gifted 19-year-old instrumentalist who had recently joined The Messengers based in Jacksonville, Florida. I had to do some quick math to determine this could not possibly be the same Randy Byrd who now sings bass with the Mark Trammell Quartet. Well, it theoretically COULD be, I suppose, but that would mean the Randy I’ve met has been hiding his talents under the proverbial bushel in recent years (and hasn’t quite been honest about his birth date posted on his Facebook page). (For the benefit of those who don’t get my attempts at humor, it’s NOT the same Randy Byrd.)
- Greg Gordon, in the wake of the disbanding of the Chuck Wagon Gang, joined the Oak Ridge Boys to play bass guitar and be featured in a special solo segment at each concert.
- Benson announced new albums by the Rambos (The Real Thing), The Speer Family (The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference), the Oak Ridge Boys (Talk About The Good Times/Get Together), the Downings (Happiness Is), and Doug Oldham (Have You Heard…God Loves You).
- Jan Cain was the Diana Brantley of the 1970s. Her column mentioned concerts she had attended recently in Adel, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. She includes details like Vicki Goodman filling in for her uncle Sam (who had to miss a concert due to pneumonia) and Wendy Bagwell being presented with a huge comb for his birthday.
- “Jesus Is Coming Soon” appeared at the top of the radio airplay chart, a position it had held in four of the six previous months.
Below, I am listing the issues of Singing News I need to complete my collection. If you have any old issues stored and would like to see the history they contain shared with other fans via MusicScribe and SGHistory.com, leave a message for me in the comments. I’ll see your email address (though it won’t be displayed to the public on the site) and respond.
1969 May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1970 January, February, March, April, May, June, August, November
1972 May, September, November, December
1973 January, April, December
1974 February, March, August, December
1975 January, October
1976 February, September
1977 April, May, December
1978 January, May, June, August, December
1979 January, February, April, July
1980 August, December
1983 June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1988 February, March, April, June, December
1989 January, April, October, November
1990 January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October
My greatest wish is for the SN to post the Top 40 for each month of existence. Probably about 5 yrs ago, Danny Jones told me it was in the works…but how hard would that be. Is this something you might undertake David and post on your history site? :-)
It isn’t hard, so much as time-consuming. There are two routes. I could type out every one of them manually; OR I could use optical character recognition. You might think OCR would be faster, but OCR has to first be scanned, then verified and corrected.
Even if it weren’t time-consuming, I’m missing 97 issues, I believe. Any work I did would be incomplete.
Singing News published several charts for a few years, so they’d have to be sorted. The current chart is a Top 80, and you get into a good many obscure artists if you included all 80. Still, I think it would be best to go ahead and be comprehensive if the work is going to be done at all.
Another wrinkle is I’d need to secure permission from Salem. They’ve never complained about my list of their number one songs on SGHistory, but they might not be so understanding about something as extensive as re-publishing every one of their charts.
So with all that considered, the short answer is no, I doubt I will be undertaking that task any time soon! I WOULD, however, be happy to approach Salem about publishing such a list if someone else had a relatively complete collection and the time to do the work.
I have long said that I wish they would offer digital issues of all of the Singing News either as part of our subscriptions, an add on, separate (not unreasonable) fee, or a separate access fee or some such. I kjnow digitizing could be some work (although they might have already done it). If not, they need to. There are too many natural disasters that could happen and their hard copies destroyed. We have been unfortunate enough that the Skylite masters were destroyed in a fire (many of them at least) and then several of the great HeartWarming / Riversong /Benson masters are missing or destroyed.
I don’t know if you still need any of these old issues of Singing News, but we have these: