Dear Southern Gospel Music Fans,
I’ve been known quite a few times over the years to take artists to tasks for different aspects of the SG industry – from poorly-made products and presentations to apparent penny pinching to immature reactions to being called out on something. I can probably name several enemies that I’ve made among southern gospel artists (they know who they are – they keep rejecting my friend requests on Facebook!). They view sites like MusicScribe and other SG-related press (that isn’t directly controlled by them and/or the Singing News) to be, as the President of the United States puts it, “fake news.”
(In fact, I’m pretty sure I first heard the term “fake news” in our comments section somewhere.)
Let it not be said, however, that I only pick on artists. I try my best to be fair, so this time, I am addressing YOU, the FANS – the ones who spend their hard-earned money buying the 3/$25 CD packs at concerts and complaining about having to pay for a concert; the ones who are God-fearing, church-going, Bible-believing Christians (mostly) who know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the angels are busy warming up “I’ll Fly Away” and “Midnight Cry” in preparation for Jesus’ return (because SG music is God’s music, amiright?).
I have a few grievances to air with y’all. These are things that artists have expressed frustration with over the years, but wouldn’t dare say out loud to an audience for fear of alienating you. It’s a good thing I don’t have a fan base to worry about, because I can get away with posting this.
- STOP BEING SO NEGATIVE!! This may sound laughable coming from me, who seems to get far more response when I am coming across as negative, but rest assured, any negativity I have towards an artist is at least prefaced by respect for said artist. There’s a reason they’re out there on the road and I’m not, and anyone who can spend the majority of their time travelling and away from their loves ones deserves at least the respect of those like me who choose instead to stay home. I also try to at least be objective in looking at the PRODUCT being presented instead of the person presenting the product. Just because I think a particular CD or concert was bad doesn’t mean I hate the artist (although some artists tend to be a bit sensitive in this area).That being said, some of you “fans” have VERY little to say in terms of being positive. You guys complain about music being too loud, too quiet, too modern, too traditional, too processed, too raw….there is NO pleasing some of you!! You want your SG music done a VERY specific way, and that’s fine, but keep this in mind – just because you don’t LIKE something doesn’t mean it’s WRONG. If you don’t like Group A or Group B, then just don’t listen to them. Trust me, I read all of the comments that come through on this page, and some of you seem to forget that the Psalmist said to make a JOYFUL noise, not just make noise.
- BOUNDARIES!! With social media today, there are quite a few artists who are easily available to fans in a way unlike ever before. You can shoot an email, Facebook message, or tweet to your favorite singers and often get a response fairly quickly, which to most fans is quite thrilling. Keep in mind, however, that these are STILL human beings who have a right to just as much privacy as you do. Some folks lock down their social media to family and close friends only; accept that for what it is.Also, if you have photos of yourself with your favorite SG singers, please keep in mind that their families often see those photos – families who stay home and take care of business while their husbands/wives are on the road. How would YOU feel if you spent a week working, taking care of kids, cleaning the house, and handling bills all on your own, and you see a picture of your spouse pop up online, smiling with their arm around a fan and seemingly having a great time? I know of at least one artist who makes it a policy NOT to be photographed with someone of the opposite sex unless the rest of the group is involved for this very reason.In addition, allow the artists the courtesy of down time. They are away from home, often in a new and unfamiliar place, with a rather rigid schedule for preparing and performing. When they make themselves available to you, great, but be respectful of their privacy and wait for them to be available.
- YOU ARE NOT BETTER/WORSE THAN THEM!! Gospel singers are, as I said above, human beings. They have faults. They have flaws. They make mistakes. Yet, some fans will put these singers on such a pedestal that they take on a super-human status in their minds. This is not only unhealthy for the fans, but just as potentially damaging to the artists themselves, who begin to accept that they are apparently better than the people they sing to. Egos can be hard to control when they are constantly fed.On the flip side, you are no better than a SG artist who may have “fallen,” or been caught in a sin, so don’t calling out a speck in someone’s eye until you remove the plank in yours. Gospel artists aren’t perfect, and neither are you.
- QUIT BEING SO CHEAP!! Southern gospel fans are among the cheapest people I know, and they always go back to the same argument – “Don’t you have faith that God will provide?” Well, let me ask you this – what if God is providing for a gospel artist through YOUR wallet or purse? If you really want to show love and support for a SG group, then open up and help them out. Skip a dinner at Bob Evans and buy their CD’s (without asking for a discount or bargain/special). Pay for a ticket, or drop the equivalent into the offering plate.
- STOP WORSHIPING THE MUSIC!! This is probably my biggest grievance (and one that both fans and artists are guilty of). National Quartet Convention, the Memphis Quartet Show, and other smaller events that pay tribute to the southern gospel style of music have taken on an almost cult-like status. People are worshiping the style of music rather than worshiping God. This isn’t just in SG circles, either. Wanna see a church split? Change the musical style of the worship service and watch folks literally get up and walk out.Musical styles are a matter of personal preference; they are NOT indicative of a spiritual status. To say that a “progressive” music style is evil (I’m looking at YOU, David Cloud), despite the content of a song being Biblical is just stupid (in my opinion).
There you go, artists – I’m turning the spotlight away from you for a moment and pointing it out at the people in front of you. Don’t ever let it be said that I’m not an equal-opportunity offender!!