Why do Grammy® voters vote the way they do in Southern Gospel categories?
Certain trends are clear. Some producer or label voter coalitions generate almost-automatic annual nominations. And imprints with major label distribution have that label’s votes behind their nominees. (Examples: Gaither Music Group/Capitol Christian Music Group and Stow Town/Provident/Sony).
Even knowing this, each year’s nominations still include head-scratchers. (Some make sense. Joseph Habedank’s Resurrection is phenomenal and deserved its nomination.)
But The Collingsworth Family’s The Best of the Collingsworth Family Vol. 1? At least it’s not a compilation; it has new vocals on their old tracks. When the nominations came out, I thought: “The artist definitely deserves it. But why this album?”
This might be the answer. These awards often function as a sort of lifetime achievement award. We can debate whether labels or voters deserve the blame or credit. But it is our end result.
The Best of the Collingsworth Family Vol. 1 is a nice project. But this nomination is more about The Answer, Part of the Family, and That Day is Coming.
Look at the last fifteen years. Southern Gospel artists have only taken home three Grammys. (The others went to country or CCM artists doing hymns albums.)
- 2003: We Called Him Mr. Gospel Music: The James Blackwood Tribute Album, Various Artists. This wasn’t about The Jordanaires, Larry Ford, or the Light Crust Doughboys. It wasn’t about the project’s musical quality either. (It’s good but not a landmark release.) It was honoring James Blackwood’s career.
- 2009: Lovin’ Life, Gaither Vocal Band. This is a nice project. It has strong songs and strong vocal performances. But it’s simply not as strong as their 1997-2003 (or so) run of landmark releases. Many of those releases were nominated but lost. The 2009 awards had weaker competition (no big, current country stars). Perhaps the voters did know how they should have voted when they voted for Andy Griffith instead. Perhaps this was to make up for that.
- 2010: Jason Crabb, Jason Crabb. No complaints here. Sometimes a deserving current album wins.
We can also look at nominees that did not win:
- Triumphant Quartet, Everyday (2009) – their only nomination
- The Martins, Light of the World (1998) and A Cappella (2013)
- Kenny Bishop, Kenny Bishop (2007) – his only nomination
- Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Dream On (2010) – their only nomination
These are five nice albums. But each nomination seems to be as much about the artists’ whole body of work to date.
I don’t mean to suggest that every Southern Gospel Grammy is like this. Karen Peck & New River, Jeff & Sheri Easter, and the Gaither Vocal Band have strong nominations. But all three are multi-time nominees.
This seems to be a trend. It’s not always the case, and it is more likely to apply to one-time nominees. But there does seem to be something here.