Of all the aspects of the Christian music industry that bother me, one that always seems to stick out is the idea of Halls of Fame. We have the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and various state halls of fame. All are filled with what many would consider to be pioneers in Christian music.
But it’s DBM’s recent ballot for this year’s Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame induction that brought about my own conflict with the idea as a whole.
In his post, DBM points out that William Lee Golden (one of his nominees) pretty much defines the word “fame”:
Golden’s fame extends beyond the typical boundaries of the Southern Gospel market into the mainstream.
In this case, yes, I agree. Golden deserves to be in a hall of fame (he’s in several now, actually, as both an individual and as a member of The Oak Ridge Boys).
My argument, however is that fame is not something that Christian singers should necessarily be seeking (and, truth be told, if you ask any SG artist why they’re singing today, pretty much nobody will admit to “fame” being one of their driving forces, even if it is something they secretly desire), so why should we label them as having fame? That doesn’t mean we can’t pay tribute to those who have had a major influence on Christian music in some way; I just don’t think labeling it as “fame” is a good idea.
My proposal is that the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame should be renamed as a Hall of Honor. Yes, it still presents the same idea, and functionally, nothing much would change, but the idea is that we are honoring those who have influenced SG music (rather than proclaiming their own fame). On a somewhat deeper level, removing “fame” from the equation also removes the possibility of “infamy” being attached (“Oh, yeah, that person is FAMOUS for all the bad thing they did!”). “Honor” accomplishes the same effect, but also gives a bit of prestige to the inductee, while also adding a bit of humility.
What say you? Do you think “fame” should be dropped, or is it ok? Would “honor” be a better label? Or perhaps something else entirely?