With the recent announcement of the Southern Gospel Music Association joining forces with the Biblical Times Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN, the SGMA now has not just a new home for the SGMA Hall of Fame, but also a venue to bring in artists for special events (the previous home of the HoF was Dollywood, which had its own booking and scheduling). With this in mind, the theater and the SGMA have announced the Southern Gospel Breakfast Hour, which is advertised as such:
Come experience the very best of Southern Gospel music and Southern Style cooking! The Southern Gospel Breakfast Hour, presented by the Southern Gospel Music Association, provides an opportunity for you to start your morning the RIGHT way. You’ll enjoy a hearty breakfast, served directly to your seat, as you’re treated to a Southern Gospel concert from some of best in the business. We know this will be a great start to your day – if not the highlight of your week!
As of now, there are two “seasons” for this series: a Summer Series that runs from June through July, and a Winter Series that runs from November through December. Artists include The Nelons, Jonathan Wilburn, the Old Paths, the LeFevre Quartet, Gold City, and the Down East Boys, among others.
While this is a great new opportunity for the SGMA to gain some wider exposure, one can’t help but wonder why a Fall Series was not introduced, especially considering that NQC occurs in late September into October. It seems to me that this would be the ideal time to hold such an event, what with the largest group of gospel music fans already in town.
Not only that, but it would give some artists who are not scheduled to appear on the NQC Main Stage another opportunity for fans to see them sing. Indeed, the Nelons, who are not on this year’s NQC schedule, are scheduled for both the Summer and Winter series; why not add a Fall series so fans can see them (and such artists) while they’re in town?
I guess the main answer would be competition. The NQC and the SGMA have historically worked together, with the NQC allowing for a SGMA presentation each year. Why bite the hand that feeds you there by bringing in artists that might pull attention away from NQC events? It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if there was an agreement made when this series was conceived to specifically avoid this issue entirely.
In addition, even if there WERE a fall series, you’d effectively divide your audience, with a portion attending NQC-sanctioned events and a portion attending the SGMA breakfast. I’m sure it wouldn’t be a true 50/50 split, as NQC is the primary (and more recognized) event, but there still would be a decision to be made by the fans, and I’m sure neither organization wants to deal with that hassle.
Really, at the end of the day, the National Quartet Convention is a very powerful force in the gospel music industry, for better or worse. I’m sure the SGMA has no desire to damage their relationship with the organization after so many years. Add the fact that gospel music fans are largely creatures of both tradition and habit, and there really is no reason for the NQC to want to let that power go.
That does raise another question, however: what’s to stop an individual artist/group that’s not appearing at NQC from booking their OWN dates in or around Pigeon Forge? (spoiler alert for a future article…)